Some of Coach Smith's thoughts from his book The Carolina Way:
- "The most important thing in good leadership is truly caring. The best leaders in any profession care about the people they lead, and the people who are being led know when the caring is genuine and when it's faked or not there at all."
- “Play Hard; Play Together; Play Smart.” Good description from a review of his book here: "Hard meant with effort, determination, and courage; together meant unselfishly, trusting your teammates, and doing everything possible not to let them down; and smart meant with good execution and poise, treating each possession as if it were the only one in the game.”
- In some ways, this ties into stoic philosophy: "Smith recognized that occasionally his teams would have bad luck or face a particularly good team or player on their best night, but he believed that if his teams simply concentrated on those things within their control, then they would generally be successful."
- Feedback: Take the time to your people as individuals. Give them feedback positive and negative in private sessions. Let them know what is expected and let them know how they are doing. (praise in public, correct in private). "I'd get on the players if I needed to, but it was also important to praise them for the good things they had done, especially on the road, where they faced enough adversity without my piling on. I wasn't as critical during games as I was at practice. Players needed confidence during games more than criticism."
- "The coach's job is to be part servant in helping each player reach his goals within the team concept... When I became head coach at North Carolina, I tried to put myself in the shoes of the players. How did they want to be treated? How could I help them reach their potential? How could I make the game fun and enjoyable and still work them hard?"
- "Dr. Jerry Bell: Part of Dean Smith's greatness as a leader lies in his ability to get his players to get beyond understanding their roles to embracing them. But their commitment starts with clarity. If employees don't understand their roles, their specific areas of responsibility, it's almost impossible for the company to work well as a team. Confusion will reign. Divided responsibility ends up being nobody's responsibility. "
- Teach young leaders by delegating authority - Coach Smith entrusted his older UNC players with the authority to make and enforce rules governing the team. Coach kept the responsibility for this being done in the right manner by letting the players know what his standards were for them.
One other lesson to be learned. Coach Smith took a lot of strong stands in his life. For example, he integrated the UNC athletic program when he recruited Charlie Scott to play for the Tarheels in 1966, among other things. Perhaps that is Coach Smith most valuable lesson to leaders - have the courage of your convictions.
Rest in peace, Coach.
Proud to be a Tarheel
UPDATE: Forgot to give a hat tip and link to Championship Coaches Network .