“Are you a coach of success or a coach of significance?”
This week, we reach into the Peak Performance Vault for a episode featuring leadership & culture guru Jeff Janssen from 2007!
On this episode, you’ll learn:
- How to KNOW you are making a difference in the lives of your athletes
- The training needed to develop true leadership
- The importance of keeping the main thing the main thing
- How to build confidence in your players
- and much more…
The Janssen Sports Leadership Center develops college and high school student-athletes and coaches into world-class leaders who are committed to a lifetime of service, success, and significance.
Cain: This is Brian Cain live with Jeff Janssen of Janssen Peak Performance out of Cary, North Carolina. I’m sure a lot of listeners to this interview have already been to his fantastic website: it’s www.JeffJanssen.com.
Jeff, thanks for sitting down and taking the time to chat with us today. I really appreciate it. For the Inner Circle members most of them are (I’m sure) familiar with your stuff already but for those who aren’t Jeff is one of the world’s leading authorities on leadership development and Peak Performance. It’s an absolute honor to be able to sit down with him today.
Jeff, could you give us your background in the Peak Performance industry and how you got to be where you are today as one of the top authorities in the world.
Janssen: I’d be happy to. I was real privileged to start out at the University of Arizona. I got my Master’s degree there and while we were there the stuff we were learning and the experiences that we were having it just seemed like it really needed to be shared with the coaches and student athletes there.
Mike Candrea, who is their softball coach and a big baseball kind of guy at heart who has applied a lot of baseball stuff to the softball world very successfully, gave me an opportunity to work with his program. Fortunately for me and unfortunately for Coach Olsen and his program that was kind of the early 90s where Arizona men’s basketball would end up a pretty good seed going into the tournament and would end up losing in the first round to some teams that they shouldn’t be losing to.
So both of those guys gave me an opportunity to work with their programs and fortunately things went very well and they decided to go to the athletic director and create a fulltime position for me. I spent eight years with Arizona’s athletic department working with all of their different teams and their coaches. As you might imagine you learn a tremendous amount during those eight years with those stellar coaches and you learn a lot from the programs that are struggling too.
So I did that for eight years. During that time there were obviously a lot of schools because not everybody has their own sports psych consultant so a lot of other schools said “can you come out and do some workshops for us.” That eventually got to the point of being a self sustaining business. I was fortunate to then create my own consulting company. We moved to Cary, North Carolina, and just going out to a variety of different schools.
Fortunately then three years ago the University of North Carolina, their athletic director, Dick Baddour, decided to create the comprehensive leadership academy called the Carolina Leadership Academy at Carolina. So I got a chance to work with a variety of student athletes there from all sports. We’ve got a few different levels. We’ve got a program for freshmen called the Creed Program. We’ve got a rising stars program which targets sophomore and junior student athlete emerging leaders. We spent a year with them trying to teach them what it takes to be a leader and how to gain everyone’s respect and step up to be a vocal leader. Then we’ve got a third program for the veteran leaders because they are the ones who are in the fire and having to deal with all this stuff.
Part of the leadership academy too is we meet regularly with the coaches and do a lot of professional development with them. Also their administrators are involved. That has gone so well that now there are schools like Stanford and Pitt and Yale and Illinois and some others now who are getting on board with the leadership academy concept and finding out that all this training – you can’t just do a onetime thing but it’s really an ongoing, systematic, comprehensive kind of program. So there is the somewhat brief version of my background.
Cain: You’ve talked about the Carolina Leadership Academy. I’ve heard a lot of great stuff about it. Is that academy something that you just do with the Carolina athletes, coaches, and administrators who are a part of the UNC athletic department? Or is it something where they have a leadership camp in the summer where someone who is a high school athlete or another college athlete or one of the coaches listening to this that they can send their kids there to get the same kind of experience through you?
Janssen: Right now we don’t really have that camp available. Obviously with the high schools and colleges you’ve got kids working and then you’ve got the whole how do we send these kids there financially and give them some time. So most of my stuff is me going to a particular school and doing what I call a leadership summit where I will spend time with the coaching staff and talk about how best to develop and groom and partner with the leaders then usually meeting with a group of 50-60 student athlete leaders from each school from a variety of sports and taking them through a two hour workshop on what it means to be a leader and how they can step up and be effective. So that’s a lot of what I do.
But as I mentioned there are some schools now who are taking a more comprehensive approach where I’ll be visiting 4-10 times throughout the year and kind of staying in touch that way.
Cain: Some of the things you mentioned about going in and doing a leadership summit – and I know that some of the Division 1 coaches and higher level university coaches have the opportunity to maybe have the budget to bring you or some of the high school coaches that would have that booster club or in their budget to be able to bring in a guy like yourself. What are some of the benefits of the leadership academy?
I know that as captains a lot of times kids are elected captains but we don’t necessarily give them the skills to lead. I know that your programs are designed to give the kids the skills to lead. What are some of the other benefits that your programs offer?
Janssen: I think the huge benefits are just raising the standards of play. I think coaches are frustrated because it seems like we’re the only ones who are trying to drive this whole machine with the attitudes and the chemistry and the commitment and it seems like how do we get kids to want it half as badly as we do. I think when you can get the leaders within the teams and now they’re leading peers you can just get so much more accomplished.
When you have kids taking co-ownership of the program and they take pride in what is going on then they’re the ones who are going to be setting and establishing the standards. They’re the ones who are going to echo the things that the coaches say out in practice. They are going to echo those in the locker room. They are going to echo those in the weight room. They are going to echo those on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights when somebody is about to screw up with something. I think you’ve got now somebody embracing your standards.
I think when you’ve got great leaders you are going to help build a sense of chemistry. They are going to help welcome those younger kids under their wings. You are going to have better – during adversity you are going to have a leader step up and understand the gravity of the situation and keep the main thing. The main thing, as we just talked about with the Vermont leaders here.
I just think there are so many benefits. I think there are obviously the competitive benefits when you’ve got somebody stepping up and leading but there is also just the things that give coaches and programs black eyes are a lot of the times the off the field shenanigans that happen with all the teenage temptations that are out there. If you’ve got a leader that cares enough about your program and says “quite screwing around, you’re making the rest of us look like an idiot” then you’re going to have that part (hopefully) salvaged too.
I think, obviously, all coaches out there are competitive. You want to win, you want to be successful, but at the same time I think coaches want to see that they’re making a difference with their kids and when somebody has gone through their program for a couple of years they can go onto the next level not just a better athlete but hopefully a better person. I think that is obviously where the leadership stuff hits. If you’ve talked to most coaches and athletic directors and principals and school presidents they talk about our mission is to develop leaders. Yet when you look at it what kind of training are these leaders getting other than just hoping that they’re going to figure out leadership? I think we’ve got to be much more systematic and comprehensive in our approach if we want our kids to be extensions of us we as coaches have to extent ourselves to them.
Cain: I think that’s fantastic, Jeff, what you just mentioned about as athletic directors our mission – at I think any level you are talking about – is to develop people have good life skills or good leadership skills that they can use to be successful after the athletic career. For most of the coaches out there the majority of the people they coach are never going to make a living playing that sport. For the baseball coaches that I talk to at the college level teaching a kid to hit a fastball or throw a curveball may win a couple games at this level but they’re never going to make a living doing that – or very few of them will. So are they getting those skills that are going to help them in the real world?
Janssen: They’re probably not. I think the question all coaches have to ask then is are you a coach of success or are you a coach of significance? Obviously a coach of success is somebody who wants to win games and be competitive but I think if you look at the real coaches who have a major impact on kids and are the coaches especially that recruits want to go play for they aren’t just coaches of success, they’re coaches of significance – which certainly takes into account you’re competitive, you want to win, but you see the bigger picture. You see the perspective in it and you use that I’m not just developing sports skills but I am developing leaders and life skills along the way.
Cain: When the athlete leaves they’re not just a piece of meat. They are somebody who is a person, somebody you can have a relationship with. I think a lot of times you can see those programs where you have coaches of significance where their athletes come back. Their athletes come back. Their athletes stay in touch with the coach after they either go on to pro-ball or graduate. That is a coach of significance.
I think for the coaches listening to this how many of your former players still stay in touch with you? You probably think you’re a coach of significance but the writing is on the wall. If your kids aren’t following through with you and maintaining those relationships they’re probably – your perception of yourself is jaded, similar to what you were talking about today with the athlete grading themselves out.
Janssen: Right. I mean I can tell you stories of examples of Hall of Fame coaches who send out invitations to former players for their Hall of Fame banquet induction ceremony and those players get those invitations and rip them up and throw them in the garbage and think “no way am I going to go honor that person.” I wonder as that person gets up and gives their acceptance speech and their thank-yous and they look out in the audience and there is just a smattering of their former players and knowing that very few of them actually want to honor how they won – not that they won but how they won – I just wonder does that coach really feel like they’ve been a success? It’s a very hollow success.
Sadly I think sometimes there is an evolution in a coach’s philosophy that when you first start off you’re trying to prove yourself to yourself, to your colleagues, to your administrators, and the success part becomes the major focus and sometimes you lose track in terms of trying to build your resume and move up the coaching ladder that sometimes you lose track of that significance. It’s only until when your career is done sometimes that’s it smacks you smack dab in the face that you wonder “I wonder if I would have done things exactly the way I did earlier.”
Cain: I love how you’re talking about the difference between success and significance. We have a common bond through Ken Ravizza. One of the things that he always would talk to us about – and I think it came through Dr. Tom Osborne who was the football coach in Nebraska – is he always said “there is a difference between success and winning.” Just because you win a game doesn’t mean that you were successful. I think that ties in with what you are talking about. Am I right?
Janssen: Yeah. I think so. If you talk to a lot of coaches a lot of times they’ll say “my best coaching job wasn’t necessarily my championship years.” When they take a look at sometimes putting a team together that may not have had a whole lot of talent or had a lot of dissention and grabbing the duct tape and seeing what we can do to piece together something, sometimes those are the most satisfying times for coaches.
I was just out at Stanford and Dick Gould, who is their tennis coach – he won (I think) 17-18 national championships with their men’s program) – said an interesting thing that I’ve heard other people say as well. They said “I became a better coach after I won my first national championship because I wasn’t so consumed in making that happen that I had a better perspective.”
Mike Candrea, who I mentioned before, the softball coach at Arizona, has often said “I wish I could give every coach out there a national championship right away so that then they could have their perspective and priorities in order and go from there” rather than desperately getting on the wheel like a hamster running and running to chase something that they may never get. Even if they do get there is it the end all/be all that you think it was.
I think Steven Covey is the guy who said “be careful when you’re frantically trying to get up that ladder to success, make sure it’s up against the right wall.” When you get up to the top it may not be all it’s cracked up to be.
Cain: I love what you mentioned about how Candrea said “I wish everyone could win a national championship earlier” and how he says “I’ve become a better coach after winning a national championship” and guess what? Mike Candrea continues and will continue to win national championships.
Cain: Augie Garrido, the head baseball coach at the University of Texas who was the head baseball coach at Cal State Fullerton, has won five national championships spanning four decades. The thing that Augie said after they won their first national championship was “is this it, is this all there is.” I think until you get there you wonder “well yeah there is going to be something there” – I think another reason why those coaches like Augie and Coach Candrea continue to be successful is that they’re gotten there and they realize exactly what you are talking about. It’s about coaching for significance. Through coaching for significance comes the end result – success.
Janssen: That is what I think a lot of coaches miss is if you coach through significance you’re more likely to get the success that you want as well because your kids are going to run through a wall for you because they know you’ve got their best interests at heart, that you care about them as individuals, and that you’re not that piece of meat that “hey we’re going to use you for a couple years while we’ve got you and then sayonara we’ll take the next group in.”
You look at some of the best coaches out there – Greg Dale, who is a colleague of mine, we got to a couple of years ago write a book called The Seven Secrets of Successful Coaches. We purposely took a look at coaches who had not just won but won the respect of their student athletes in the process. Those coaches really do have a big impact on their kids and when it comes time to recruiting and parents take a look at “is this a person I want to send my kid to for the next four years” then certainly these aspects take into account.
I think the other question – as you were talking about before – is if you’ve played for someone do you want your son or daughter to go play for that person? Would you send them back there because of the experience that you had?
Cain: You mentioned the book that you and Dr. Dale wrote together and I’ve read that book The Seven C’s of Successful Coaches. Could you talk to the listeners at home? I know a lot of them probably have it and have read it but for those maybe who haven’t what are the seven C’s and talk about that book a little bit because it’s fantastic.
Janssen: Well thank you. I’ll see if I can remember them all here. I talk about them enough so they should be in there.
Number one is character. I think all of these – as we interviewed coaches and athletes to put this book together obviously you’ve got to be a person of character. You’ve got to be trustworthy, you’ve got to be honest in your approach, and you’ve got to win the right way. It’s not about – as we were talking about before – winning at all costs but winning the right way.
Certainly commitment is a big part of that. If you want your kids to work hard you’ve got to be setting that standard, you’ve got to be planning practices, you’ve got to be trying to get better in every single way. Obviously your coaches listening here have made an investment in getting better so hopefully they’re got that taken care of.
The third one is competent. You’ve got to know what you’re talking about. You don’t have to be the world’s foremost expert in pitching or catching or hitting or anything like that but you’ve at least got to have a solid knowledge of what you are talking about if you expect kids to listen to you.
Caring is another huge one. You’ve got to show the kids – this is the old saying that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. It’s all the relationship building stuff that the coaches have to do off the field. Again going back to Candrea I can remember him saying there were times where he’d have a 2-2 ½ hour practice and he’d say the most important part of the day was the five minutes after practice that he ended up talking to somebody and making a huge breakthrough with someone. That was the biggest breakthrough that they had even though they just spent two hours physically doing some stuff. So there is the caring part of it.
Another one is confidence builder. I think so many people go through ups and downs with their confidence and as the coach you’ve got to show them you’re right behind them. I think that is what Joe Torre does so well with the Yankees for so many years. I forget who exactly it was but one of his pitchers one time said “no matter how bad you’re throwing you know that Joe is not going to give up on you, he is going to be in your corner no matter what.” Whereas sometimes coaches and our egos we have a tendency if somebody is not playing well we kind of distance ourselves from them and that is the last thing–
Cain: Don’t want to catch it.
Janssen: Exactly. And that is the last thing that that person needs and now they don’t respect you in that process too.
Going along with this another one of the C’s is communicator. Obviously you’ve got to be able to communicate and relate well but a huge part of that is the whole listening thing and finding out where people are coming from first before you tell them exactly what you think they need to do and you find out well that is not exactly where they are coming from.
Then the last one that we talk about is just a sense of consistency both in terms of your overall philosophy – it doesn’t mean you’re not going to adapt to certain personnel but having certain things that you’re known for (kind of a “brand” to use marketing terminology there) – and the other consistency is just in your moods and your attitude and lot letting the highs get too high or the lows get too low. If you’ve got a three game win streak hopefully you’re a similar coach to some degree as when you’ve got a three game losing streak and not having a Jekyll and Hyde kind of approach because then kids don’t know what to expect from you.
I don’t think you need to be perfect on all those but I think when recruits look at programs and certainly when student athletes decide “am I going to buy into this guy or am I not” those seven things either consciously or unconsciously are things that we all evaluate. If you’ve got those seven things going for you I think you’ve got credibility as a coach. When you’ve got credibility as a coach, a leader, a teacher, a president, whatever it may be, you will have people’s buy in and commitment – all those fun words that you need to have a successful program.
Cain: I think one of the things that coaches can do – and you do this in your book – is it gives them tools to evaluate how they do in the seven C’s. It’s a self evaluation. Then most importantly they give an evaluation form to their kids, to their athletes, and their athletes get to evaluate the coaching staff if the coach can put the ego aside and be willing to do it, those seven C’s.
Janssen: It’s hard to do.
Cain: Then they can start to make some real breakthroughs as a coach. Once they break through as a coach, guess what? The program and the kids are going to follow.
Janssen: I agree. A lot of times when I work with coaches in programs the coaches are frustrating. It’s like “fix my team chemistry” or “fix my kids, they’re not mentally tough” and all that. Certainly there are areas that need to be worked on but a lot of times if coaches might make a little adjustment in their coaching strategy it’s amazing what it does to the coachability of the kids because they’re a lot more receptive to what is going on.
As coaches I always ask coaches “imagine could a player get any better if you had never given him any feedback, if you never watched any video with the kid and what was going well, if you never gave them feedback on their swing, how much better is that kid going to get throughout the course of the year” and they all know the kid is not going to develop.
It’s the same thing as coaches. If you never get any feedback from your staff members or if you never get any feedback from the kids that you’re actually working with finding out what is connecting with them, what is not connecting with them – and you’re not going to let the inmates run the asylum but you are hopefully going to check in with those kids and find out what is working so that obviously you can repeat that stuff and try to make some adjustments to the stuff that just isn’t connecting with the kids that you have in your program.
Cain: I like the fact you talk about as coaches if we never gave our kids feedback we could not expect them to get any better yet as coaches how do we get feedback so that we can approve.
I know you talked about The Seven C’s of Successful Coaches. What are some of the other products that you’ve got? I know you’ve got a great line of books and some manual and some videos. What are some of those other products that coaches could get to find ways to improve themselves and their coaching of Peak Performance/team building/leadership/mental game type stuff?
Janssen: Obviously you mentioned The Seven Secrets as one and that’s where we get a chance to interview some of sport’s greatest coaches. Roy Williams, the basketball coach at Carolina. Mike Krzyzewski, of the Carolina/Duke rivalry. Pat Summitt’s in there. Mike Candrea, who I mentioned before. Jerry Yeagley, who is the Indiana men’s soccer coach; they won six national championships. Mary Wise, who is the Florida volleyball coach; they haven’t won a national championship but it doesn’t mean she is not a credible coach – she has been several final fours. Mike Gillespie, who was at USC. A lot of just really great coaches who have won their student athletes’ respect along the way.
You’ve got the championship team building book where you take a look at what does it mean if a team has got great team chemistry. Again there – I don’t know if it’s a ting I have with sevens and the letter C – there is kind of seven characteristics that I have people evaluate their team on in terms of complementary roles. Commitment is in there. Constructive conflict. Cohesion. There is a variety of different things that coaches can use to try to evaluate where they are. Then depending on how that evaluation goes there is a variety of practical things that can implement with their team.
Mike Fox, who we talked about a little bit before (he is the baseball coach at Carolina) gave up last season in their fall ball every Wednesday – he said “I hated doing it as a coach because I thought we were missing time on the field” – but every Wednesday he dedicated some time to simple team building things that they could do as a team. He said “at the time I was really reluctant because are we falling behind.” He said it’s the best thing they absolutely ever did. As he looked as last year’s roster certainly they had some very talented players but he said “years past I have had some more talented teams but what this team had was chemistry.” They had something special and they not only played for them individually but they played for each other. That, he felt, was a real key to their success last year because he invested the time during fall ball and certainly carried it over to spring to do some team building stuff.
Cain: Mike Fox being the head baseball coach at North Carolina who competed for a national championship and ended up losing to Oregon State. It was a great series. Btu they gave up every Wednesday in the fall to do team building activity.
Janssen: To do some team building stuff.
Cain: Were there activities that Mike did or did you go in and do activities with the team? I’m sure he communicated with you either way. How did that work?
Janssen: I’ve got what’s called a Peak Performance Playbook that goes right along with that championship team building book. Some of the stuff he would take from there. I’ve got a website called www.TeamCaptainsNetwork.com so he and his assistants had access to that where again there is a lot of different stuff. So they would do a lot of them. Sometimes it was just simple things as “hey let’s all go bowling together.” It was just a time for them as players to really get to know each other away from the field and start developing some bonds and connections that would really come and help them get through at Omaha as well.
Cain: It’s all that off the field team building stuff that translates to the field which I think a lot of times people don’t know if that is going to happen. I think that does happen.
Janssen: It’s an investment. As Coach Fox said initially he was reluctant. We’re missing all this on the field time. A lot of times – it’s old Steven Covey stuff with the seven habits by sharpening the saw, by doing some things that may not have an immediate impact right now on what you’re doing on the field but you’re starting to set a foundation for that chemistry and you’re going to end up seeing that pay off for you later down the road because you’re sharpening the saw of your team’s chemistry and that will pay off later.
Cain: Beautiful. We’re running long here. We’ve got about 24 minutes down for the interview. Two more questions for you, Jeff.
Cain: You mentioned when you were at Arizona you had an opportunity to learn from some of the great coaches. You mentioned Mike Candrea, Lute Olson, some of the other coaches you got the opportunity to work with in North Carolina. What would you say to a young coach or to a young Peak Performance coach/sports psychology guy if you knew then what you know now what would you do differently?
Janssen: I mean that is a great question. I think a lot of it is just finding a mentor that you respect – or mentors that you respect. I think especially when you are a young coach sometimes you try to be those other people and that is not always going to work for you because you’ve got your own unique style, you’ve got your own unique ways of doing things. I think find a mentor, learn from them not only what is working but hopefully you are find a few things that “when I am in a position to be a coach or a leader I may do things a little bit differently” and just try to soak up as much information from them in the sporting world.
Don’t be afraid to go to coaches from other sports. Carolina has got Anson Dorrance who has won an amazing 19 national championships. If you can’t learn something from him in the process then I don’t know who you can learn from. There are so many experienced coaches usually on a coaching staff that you can learn from along the way.
I’ve always been an insatiable reader. I think what better thing to do than when people put all of their best ideas into either a book or a video or an audio or something like that and learn from their experience and just pulling one idea out that you can use is going to be critical.
I think the biggest thing is being a sponge. One thing that we’ve started at Carolina is we call it a fast track for assistant coaches. We’ve got so many great head coaches at Carolina that what we do on a periodic basis is we bring the assistant coaches in and we have the head coaches share leadership lessons that they learned along the way and what they did to get in their positions, what jobs they may have turned down along the way and why they turned those down, how they have assembled a staff, what they did in that interview to get people to hire them, the biggest mistakes they’ve made and what they’ve learned from them. I think the more you can do the stuff informally – or if you’re fortunate to be in an athletic department where you can do stuff formally I think the better off you’re going to be.
Cain: Awesome. You mentioned that all the products that you have are available at www.JeffJanssen.com. You mentioned that you love to read. Your top three books that you would recommend people read other than the ones that you’ve authored?
Janssen: Oh man. Well there is on my website – I think it’s on the business side of www.JeffJanssen.com I’ve got my top ten coaches books that are on there. Wooden’s I think is a great one. The little lifetime of observations on and off the court. That one is spectacular.
Anson Dorrance, it’s not by Anson but it’s called The Man Watching where Sports Illustrated writer Tim Carruthers spent four years embedded in Anson’s program. It’s called The Man Watching. An amazing book.
I really like Rick Pitino’s Lead To Succeed. Whatever you feel about Rick Pitino and his career I think his book is really, really good especially from a leadership standpoint. Lead To Succeed. He’s got Success As A Choice as well too. Those would be three that I would definitely put towards the top of the list.
Cain: Awesome. And I would add to that list the books that Jeff has. Those are available at www.JeffJanssen.com. If any of the coaches here listening to this interview wanted to bring you in to speak to their teams or work with their teams (or maybe I don’t know if you do one-on-one coaching over the phone or through email) what are some ways for people to get a hold of you to get some more of this great information and knowledge that you have to offer?
Janssen: I think the website, as you mentioned. [email protected] is my email address. We’ve got an 800 number too: 1-888-721-TEAM. Those are simple ways to get a hold of me. I’d love to come out and spend some time.
A lot of what I do (as we were sharing before) is a lot of leadership academies for coaches and a variety of student athlete leaders to develop the leaders that you’re going to need to succeed.
Cain: Awesome. The phone number (to make sure we got it right) is 888-721-TEAM and [email protected]
Janssen: You got it. Thanks for this opportunity.
Cain: Jeff, thank you man. For the listeners back home, guys, I just spent two hours listening to Jeff talk to the best student athletes the state of Vermont has to offer. If you’re serious about coaching for significance and want to take your athletes – from a leadership perspective – to another level Jeff’s the guy that can do it. Thank you Jeff.
Janssen: Thank you.