Join us for a discussion on leadership featuring Coach John Beilein and Professor Paula Lantz, associate dean of the Ford School. February 2021.
Paula Lantz: Good afternoon everyone,
and welcome to our virtual event today.
I'm Paula Lantz, I'm the James B. Hudak,
Professor of Health Policy and the Associate
Dean for Academic Affairs here at the Ford School
of Public Policy, and it is my great honor and
pleasure today to be hosting a conversation with
the amazing coach, John Beilein. Welcome Coach.
John Beilein: Thank you. Thanks, Paula,
very much. This is great to be back
sort of in the classroom again
right now with a lot of people,
a lot smarter than me, but maybe
I got some things we can share.
PL: Well, I think we're gonna have a really fun
conversation today, so... We're so glad you're
here with us. I know Coach Beilein does not
need any kind of introduction for many people,
but let me just do a little bit of introduction
before we get going here, John Beilein was the
head coach of the University of Michigan's
men's basketball program from 2007 to 2019.
PL: And during this time, he led a golden era in
the men's basketball program, appearing in two
national title games and making it to the NCAA
tournament nine times out of his 12 seasons at
the University of Michigan. He is the winningest
coach in the history of the University of Michigan
men's basketball program. He is beloved in the
University of Michigan community, and it's not
just for his coaching ability and record, but
he's also greatly admired because of his positive
spirit and his winning approach to
team development and leadership.
PL: So again, thank you, coach, for sharing your
time with us today to talk about leadership, and
how lessons from elite competitive athletics are
relevant to leadership and team building and other
arenas, including the arena of public service,
which we care so much about at the Ford School.
JB: Thanks. Thank you.
PL: Great, so I have some questions I'm gonna ask
Coach Beilein. We also have received a number of
questions already from people in the audience, and
so I'll be weaving those into my conversation with
him, we hope we have time for some more questions
from the audience, so those of you joining us
right now, please submit your questions either
via the chat function, or you also can tweet your
questions via Twitter using the hashtag "policy
talks". Alright, Coach, you're ready to get going?
JB: I am ready. Let's go.
JB: Let's go.
PL: Alright, question number one. A little bit
of background. So here at the Ford School, our
core mission is really making a difference, and
we're a community dedicated to the public good.
Our definition of leadership here
at the Ford School is really simple.
We define leadership as the intentional
behavioral process of having a positive impact
on others, on organizations and communities.
So leadership to us is just really having
an intentional positive impact on
others, organizations and communities.
PL: What's your working definition
of leadership? How do you define it,
how do you see it? And also, why is
leadership such an important component
of athletic programs and also really specifically
related to team building and team performance?
JB: Yeah, I think we're on the same page
with the definition. I have sort of that
defined just slightly different, that
leadership is the practice of educating,
inspiring, influencing and motivating others to
be their best selves. Let me break those four
things down to you, one of the things that
we've learned as we build a culture of, and
teaching our players to be leaders to assistant
coaches, is there's an education component to it.
JB: I think you have to understand leadership
is, we're not just born leaders, and some may be,
but most people, most people, I have to learn
about it. And that's why I have a passion for
teaching it, now I'm teaching it over in
the School of Education, and it's important
that you educate it. We found that people
aren't gonna learn to lead through osmosis,
you have to actually give them some of the steps
that you have to take. I think that inspiring them
is huge, and I think that has an awful lot to
do with how you build relationships in leading.
JB: You can't aspire anyone, if you don't have a
good relationship with them or really a positive
one, that you know them, you have empathy for
them. We say, "The player is inside the person,"
you don't get the player
unless you get the person,
and that's so important. And then next
is just influencing, I think old leaders
and still some leaders today, they
think they influence through power.
PL: "Oh I'm gonna lead you because why? Because
I said that's why, that's 'cause I'm the leader."
And that's not the way you're gonna lead, you
have to really choose power over influence...
Or choose influence over power all the time.
It's really... General Martin Dempsey told me
that when I was with the Cavaliers
last year. He's a tremendous hero,
army general, and talked to me about that as
I was trying a different method of leadership.
JB: And then finally in motivating there, that's
so important that you said a positive... This
tone at the top, that Dave Brandon used to
talk about with me, our ex athletic director,
is this positive sort of, I'm there, I'm there
every day. It's like Michigan's defense right now.
Every day they're coming to play defense. They
may have a bad day now and then in offense,
but their defense is there. If you come
every day with this positive attitude,
people will go your way and they
will follow you if they feel it's...
JB: It's amazing, it's a heliotropic
effect that people go towards sunshine,
they're gonna go that way whenever they can.
Kim Cameron is a great teacher at Michigan
over at the Business School, and he's taught me
a lot about this heliotropic effect. So that's
my... That's my long-winded one of leadership,
but it's got four pretty good components to it.
PL: Yeah, I really, I like that. I wanna riff off
of that a little bit and go a little deeper into
this. What are some lessons about team building
and leadership from athletic teams, that you
think are important for other groups of people
who work together professionally? Or even people
in communities who are trying to get together to
make some kind of positive change within their
community? And what are the behaviors and skills
that are important for leaders across the board?
JB: We spent, teaching this course, as I
said, and we spent the first couple of weeks
about self-awareness. In order to be a good
leader, you have to really know who you are.
One year, I tried to lead, I was reading a book
about Bobby Knight, this great coach from
Indiana, and one of the best ever, three national
championships, and probably tried to coach
more like him, and that's not my personality.
JB: I'm not saying one's better or the other,
but you have to find out who you have, build your
own core values, decide just right now, what's
really important to you. That's how we came to
our core values in Michigan. We huddled up with my
staff, I had a new staff, and they said, "Coach,
we gotta put this down, we gotta teach this,
we cannot just wait for it to happen. What's
really important to you? And then we'll work with
the team, see what's really important to them,
and try and mesh these things." And that's where
it starts. That self-awareness that you have.
JB: And then after that, to be this good leader,
you gotta stay true to those values as you
go through. If that's what you believe in,
you gotta go there, with certain flexibility,
versatility is huge, but you have to be true
to that and stay there. And then I call
it the VET, and I learned this from...
JB: I don't like throwing names around, but
I don't like to take credit for something I
didn't think of, but I was fortunate last year
to go down and see the St. Louis Cardinals in
spring training, and I wanted to talk with
their GM about leadership, John Mozeliak,
and he mentioned three things that were
really important in today's leadership,
and I call it now the VET, I teach it to my class.
JB: Being vulnerable, V. Be vulnerable. You don't
know it all. People won't follow you if you will
not, you will not admit your mistakes, and I think
if you look at this past year with this pandemic,
if we had addressed it maybe differently, if
several people were saying, "We goofed, let's do
this, let's do that." What could have happened in
that? Or the political parties now fighting with
each other, how about, "My bad, just, I was wrong,
you were right." Admit it. And what a good thing.
JB: And then empathy. I think today's world, it's
so important that we have that for each other,
I think we've seen that in all different ways
of inclusion right now of people reaching out,
social justice. Empathy is so important.
And then as we're all in the Twitter world,
in the email world, in the Instagram world,
if you aren't transparent, people are gonna find
out the other way. And you don't... You'd rather
be out front and be transparent and say, in
vulnerability, "I goofed." Or. "We're gonna
do this 'cause this is what the big data says,
not because I said so." Those things are huge.
JB: And then the last thing in being this leader
is, you gotta be a listener. I finally went to
this point where never having assistant coaches
early in my career, I thought I had to do it all.
And when I started listening to more, and
reaching out and asking questions, I found
out I certainly didn't know it all, and let's
bring in people who know differently than me,
and let's blend together or incorporate that.
Including with your team, listen to your team.
JB: And there may be some values you're not...
If they all say to you, "Alright, we really wanna
be late for practice every day," there's some
non-negotiables you're not gonna do, but they're
gonna say, "Hey Coach... " I used to make the guys
really dress up for dinner, and then after a few
years, I just ended up saying, and I don't even
know if it was in Michigan, I think it was in West
Virginia, they said, "Coach, do we really have to
dress up for dinner? It's just a pre-game meal."
JB: And I said, "Yeah, I think you're right.
We don't have to... " You just give in to these
different areas. Or, "Coach, we're practicing
too early on a Saturday, could we move it back?"
Those are those little things that are
so important, that you listen to them.
'Cause then you give them ownership. When
you listen to them, you give them ownership.
And our best teams, our best teams, the
championship teams are the ones that
went all the way national champion,
we were on cruise control in March.
JB: The coaches and I put together a few things,
the Mo Wagners, the Trey Burkes,
the Tim Hardaways, Duncan Robinsons,
they were running those teams at the
end. Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson,
that was their team, "Coach, we got it, we got
it." And that's where I think you wanna get to.
PL: That's great, and that's a great segue into
the next question. And you had mentioned this
before, that leadership is not about power, and
here at the Ford School, we talk a lot about how
being a leader doesn't mean you're the boss
of everything or that you have control of all
the resources, and every team needs everyone
to show up with their leadership skills.
PL: But an audience member did pose a, I think
what is a fair question, and that is, does a team
have to have one clear leader? You might
have a lot of leaders on your team,
but should there be someone who is more sort
of a point person on the leadership position
on a team? Or can you just have a
team where everyone's the leader?
JB: Well, I do think there's gotta be somebody,
maybe in name to be able to do that. But they
don't have to be the leader. They could
be the coach. But there's teams that,
in the NBA or things like that, that
when it came to the decision time,
they would look to the captain and
say, "What do you wanna do?" And so...
JB: But I think that the more leaders, the
better. Really, the more leaders the better.
We studied leadership, we went down to see
Lieutenant Colonel Mike Erwin at West Point,
'cause they're teaching, to the West Point
cadets there, they're teaching leadership
every single day. And truth is, not everyone
becomes a general. So they're not... They
don't all become these ultimate leaders,
but they can lead in different ways.
JB: Somebody decides for them to charge,
but somebody's gotta lead them out of there,
and somebody's gotta have the rear flank while
they're charging, so there's all different
elements to leadership. And our teams, many times
are non-scholarship guys were our best leaders,
because they brought it every day with no agendas.
And that example was really
leadership to the great players.
JB: Austin Hatch brought us leadership every day
without saying a word. When he came in every day
for practice, a great player could not play
anymore, but was just his visualization showed
leadership in some ways. But I don't think you can
have too many leaders unless they're like this,
and they're not willing to have empathy
for each other, walk in each other's shoes.
PL: So here's another question from an audience
member. And you spoke before about the core values
that you had, that were motivating. So can you
talk a little bit about what were those core
values? But also, what were the methods you used
to get your players to buy into the core values
and the team culture you were trying to create?
And how do you think that impacted performance?
JB: As I said, well, we went on this
mission. And we actually wrote up
a mission statement. And then we went to our
core values, and it came out to be as an acronym,
UPAID. "Unity", that we were gonna
be the team, the team, the team.
You know, we listen to Bo Schembechler's
speech every year to start our season.
JB: "Passion", we wanted people that
we were looking for and recruiting on
the team, everything they love
Michigan, they love basketball
and they love their teammates. Appreciation,
we always wanted this attitude of gratitude
for everything we did. We're blessed
to be able to play at this university.
We're blessed to have the skills to play at a high
level, to have a scholarship for some of them.
JB: "Integrity", the absolute most important
one. I would have had it first, but... I
should have... I guess I could go to IPAID,
but I wouldn't know what to do with the U then,
so it is... That's really... You can have all
this stuff. You can have passion, unity. You lie,
cheat, steal, you short-cut, you're not gonna
have integrity. You lose it all. You lose it all.
JB: And then "diligence" was the last one, that we
were gonna work and everybody thinks all the time,
"I'm gonna work really hard, that's gonna put me
ahead." Yes, 'cause if you don't work, you won't
get ahead. But everybody else is working hard too.
So you have to understand that. That other teams,
other companies, they're working hard too.
Yours isn't the only ones to invent hard work,
and that's why you have to be efficient with it
and know that you will not survive without it.
JB: You might get some breaks, you might do the
right thing here or there. So how did we teach it,
is we taught it. That we would go in and the
first day of practice or video or something,
we'd use unity. And we would give the definition
of unity. We would look at every word in it.
We would talk of... We'd give
different examples of unity.
JB: Go to when we'd have different
speakers come in, "Alright,
tell me about a team in the past that
you've heard that was very unified,
and how did they do? And then tell me about a team
that wasn't and how did they do?" Just giving them
those ideas. 'Cause you know what? Many times,
and I don't mean this in a bad way. Mom and dad,
brothers and sisters, your friends back home, they
don't care if you win, they wanna know how many
points and rebounds you have. And it's absolutely
conflicting. And you gotta get to that point.
JB: So we taught all those things every day and
brought people in, also speakers to do it as well.
And pretty soon, there's not one of our... There's
a lot of people that have core values, they can't
remember them. There's not one of our guys, I'm
confident doesn't know what UPAID stands for.
PL: And it's probably applying
it in every aspect of their life.
PL: After college.
JB: We added accountability in year five
or six, because we had lost a lot of people
to the NBA and we had a bunch of young people, and
they were still learning how important it was to
hold themselves accountable and each other. Brian
Townsend said something, what is the... Oh shoot,
I'm forgetting. Now, Brian Townsend teaches
leadership over in the Athletic Department.
JB: The weight of honesty. Your
team can bear the weight of honesty.
Just think about that. That you can
tell the truth and people can take it.
And that's so important that people don't
wanna hold each other accountable because
they're afraid whether, that people
can bear that weight of honesty.
PL: That's great, I love that. Alright,
so next question. What is your advice for
teams in regard to understanding and
working through differences they might have,
and especially differences that arise from people
coming together from really different backgrounds,
cultures, identities and life experiences?
What can individuals and then teams do to
get past conflicts and tensions that arise?
JB: We ended up every year, Paula, bringing
Brian Townsend over from the Leadership
Department and the Athletic Department. And we
had everybody by themselves at their own tables,
put down their values. "What's the three
things most important to you?" And very rarely
were they the same. And then we put
them up in a spectrum going across,
and there would be somebody I love and I would
coach to the end of the earth, and I did it too,
and I would see he's at the other end of the
spectrum than me. He values different things.
JB: When I became a father, in particular,
Andy, my son, may be watching right now,
the fourth of my four children, when I
found Andy, when I got to know Andy better,
he's not a baby anymore but I'm just watching
him move around, I said, "I'm four for four."
All four of my children are very different.
And so I became a better coach immediately that
Sean and Patrick, Mark and Andy, that they were
all so different, that how could I ever expect
my team to all be the same? When with the same
mom and same dad, these were all so different?
JB: So we would teach the values, and I'd say at
the other end of the spectrum is, for example,
Jon Teske. And I'm way over here. And we are
very aligned but we think differently. And
once you understand that different people have
different values and you respect them, you just
get there. There's so much respect 'cause they'll
do it to you. They'll do it to you. And you don't
know how they were raised or what challenges
they had, or maybe they had no challenges too.
JB: And if you realize that, then you
understand maybe that's why they're
having trouble with this challenge.
The whole thing is, try and find out
why they are the way they are, by just
getting to know them. And it's very,
very simple. So we really put a lot of
time into that and have coaches go on
and just... Greg Harden from university
would come in and talk with every player.
JB: And I remember we had one
player, I won't mention, but
he really broke down in front of the team to
say about a relationship he had that really
been difficult for him his whole life. And now
the team knew all the time. They know all...
They knew from the rest of the time, what he
had gone through and look at him differently.
JB: So again, walking steps in someone
else's shoes is really important.
Even as Joe Biden said... Joe
Biden's mother, "For a moment."
She said, "For a moment, just walk in their
shoes". And I think we need to do that for
a moment, no matter what political party you
are, and what type of leadership you're in.
PL: Were there things you
looked for in potential recruits
related to these leadership things we're
talking about and how could you see them?
Or how did you try to get things revealed
as you were trying to build and recruit?
JB: Yeah, you know what? It was the... And you
couldn't do it now, so I probably wouldn't have
done very well recruiting right
now, but we used to make everyone...
A lot of people will offer scholarships and they
haven't even met the guy yet. We intentionally
made everybody had to come to campus to meet
us, to get a scholarship offered. And even,
we didn't... Might not have even seen them
play yet, but we get that out of the way.
JB: Once you come to camp, we get to know
you. We didn't care who we didn't get,
Paula. We cared who we got. I told the group
today at 12, 35 games of the season, you don't
do your due diligence and you get the wrong guys
on your team, right? They could beat you 35 times.
Your own guys could beat you. He goes somewhere
else, 'cause you're unsure? He might beat you once
or twice. So we don't want people that just don't
get that. Or to come from, have that same values.
JB: Now, with all that being said, we have
kids that came from the dirt poor situations
and just barely, because of lack of opportunity
in their grade school and junior high and high
school, they had the ability, but they
didn't have the resources to actualize
their potential. And then we had other ones
that were the valedictorian of their class,
and every guy graduated because we
made sure we saw that they got it.
JB: Michigan, they understood Michigan was come
out of the academics first. Yeah, you could go to
the pros, but unpack your bags for four years, and
if you go to the pros, fine. But if not, you're
going to study all... You're doing everything,
just like everybody else. Embrace this experience.
JB: So I think that's it. Getting to understand
each other and knowing that we're all different.
And the world has come so much farther.
We're not there yet, maybe not even close.
But I just look back 23 years
with inclusion in all areas,
and we're moving in the right
direction, just not fast enough.
PL: Thank you. So I think some Ford School
students and some of my colleagues at the
Ford School might be surprised to learn that I
was actually a competitive athlete back in the
day. My sport was gymnastics. And gymnastics is
a very different sport than basketball, for sure.
I know basketball is hard, but I'm gonna say,
try thinking a moment about performing feats of
strength and flexibility and precision and grace,
on a four-foot piece of wood elevated off
the floor. It's a very different sport.
PL: But what I really wanna get to is that,
gymnastics is a really different sport from a lot
of other sports because it's a team sport, you're
competing as a team. But you're also competing
as an individual against your own teammates.
Which is, it's hard. There was always a tension
in that for me competing as the team and then
also trying to beat my teammates as well.
PL: And I think on any team there, we can't
deny, there is some competitive tension
on teams who are trying to achieve
the same goal. So how did you coach
your team members around this tension regarding
individual performance versus team performance?
JB: And with the money that's available
in the NBA and the pressure from home
or anywhere. When after a game...
We were fortunate enough to have an
awful lot of NBA first rounders and second
rounders. And everybody sort of saw that,
but everybody else wants to do that too, and
they think maybe it is their best way to get
there is to focus on themselves. And really the
best way to get there is focus on your team.
JB: I can't tell you how much Tim Hardaway, the
only pressure on him was he wanted to be the best
player he could be, and winning was so important
to him over his own self. And his first two years,
didn't even look at the NBA, because his
dad had lived it, he wanted to just be good.
And at his junior year, we had to say, "You know,
you're a first rounder, what do you wanna do?"
JB: And while he wasn't completely surprised, it
wasn't like, all he dreamed about, "I gotta get
to the NBA, I gotta do that." Or something, that
really gets in the way, that the high... We say,
"The high tide rises every boat." And we all know
that. The high tide rises every boat. And so if...
JB: I contend that we've had so many guys drafted
in the NBA because we were playing in late March,
when all of the world is
watching college basketball.
And so if we don't win, nobody knows about
you. And so we preached that. I think regarding
gymnastic, I heard this, one of our speakers at
my class brought this up, and it was really...
JB: Apparently, the Norwegian
cross-country rifle team, I believe it is,
so they'd cross country ski, shoot a rifle, and
then they go and they're competing against other
countries, but their own team. And apparently what
they would do is, some of their best ones would go
out front first, and then call back to their
teammates what the challenges were, and so...
PL: The conditions, yeah.
JB: Giving them a chance to do better than
they were. And what's happened is they've
become the elite ski team because they all have
gotten better through it. And they change the
leaders and different things like this, and
it's so... People have to understand that,
that... And if you look at this thing that,
"I'm okay, you're okay, we both can do this."
JB: Iron sharpens iron, the competition, there's
so much to that, of the competition, of just
being at your best every day or, "Somebody
else is gonna take my spot here, on this team."
It's healthy, there's that area where you don't
want it too easy and you don't want it too hard,
but there's that bell curve at the top that
is really good, where you have pressure
and you have demand, that's where
you get the best out of everybody.
PL: Excellent. Alright, got a question from
the audience. Someone writes, "I often find
it hard to judge myself as a leader, things
are not always easily observable or measurable,
so how do you recommend that people evaluate
themselves as leaders?" And do you wanna share
how... You've done that over the years, how
have you assessed yourself and your leadership?
JB: Well, I think that you... First of all,
there's probably a million books on leadership
out there. I will not be writing one. But
it is really, it's really important that you know
there's resources out there to learn about this. I
think, again, write down what's really important.
What are your values? What are your core values
that are really important to you? And they may be
just with you, they're made exclusively to you,
but then you may not be comfortable
going out there with all those things.
JB: We say all the time, "Just pivot
every now and then. Just pivot and
move yourself a little bit into that arena
where you can speak up and say something or
do something that has leadership, to get you
comfortable being a leader." And all of a sudden,
like Trey Burke, Jon Teske, very rarely said much,
but every now and then they would say something
in practice or in a game that everybody
listened to, when they did their little pivot.
JB: Scott Novak or... Yeah, Novak, you never had
to say anything about him, right? Zack, I'm sorry,
Zack Novak, I get them mixed up with a guy
named Scott Ungerer, who's another great
leader for me at Richmond. But Zack Novak was
the ultimate leader. I mean, he's giving orders
or giving leading coming out of the room, but
the other guys just had to pivot at that time.
JB: And so it is really a... It comes down to
yourself right now, getting to know yourself and
then being comfortable with what you wanna lead
it. Like it could be, when we ask our classes,
some people say, "I wanna lead in
empathy, that's my thing." Well then,
just do it and it will sort of happen to
you, show you, do that every single day.
JB: Make a list, make a list of things you're
gonna do that are gonna be empathetic that
day and do 'em. They, both Scott Ungerer and Zack
Novak will laugh now because I called Zack, Scott,
many, many times. [chuckle] They were both
left-handed, both playing out of possession,
both bright as can be, and both great leaders.
So I'm sorry about that guys, I mixed your names.
PL: What do you think about... The 360 Evaluations
are pretty... They've been around for a while,
and pretty common. What do you think about that?
Everyone asking everyone else they work with,
"How am I doing? Let's all take
a look at each other and see
how everyone's doing individually, but
then also how we're doing as a team."
JB: Yeah, it is... Can I say I love
it and I want people to do it? No.
We did virtually do it one time with me. Very
uncomfortable. But what also happened out of it
was, there were some clear misunderstandings
that I had not communicated well but our
intentions were the same. And it was just
the simplest mistake that we could correct.
JB: And at the same time, I also heard things
that probably... I thought I was doing a good job.
There's a book, Leadership and Self-Deception,
which my class is reading right
now. I'd just finished reading.
And it's exactly about that. You think you're
leading sometimes and you're not. You're not.
JB: And you got... You're really betraying
yourself when you do not look at yourself
truthfully and try to get on the other side
of that. And it basically comes down to,
are you treating everyone as a real
person? Or are you treating everyone,
"That's the janitor, that's my wife, that
is the teacher, that is my classmate."?
Or, "Is that John? This very unique man,
he has a family does everything and he
happens to be sweeping the floors."? And
it's a different thing. And as a result,
I think that's so important that we get to that
point with everybody as we're looking to lead.
PL: Thank you. So last week when
we met and we we're having our
pre-session for this, we discovered that we both
have a mutual appreciation for the same person who
is actually mentioned already, and also a book.
So University of Michigan alumnus, Michael Erwin,
has a book called Lead Yourself First:
Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude.
PL: So I'm wondering if you could speak a little
bit about this book and Dr. Erwin's main message
in the book about the really important role
of solitude and reflection in leadership?
JB: He's not quite a doctor yet, but he'll work...
PL: Okay. That's right.
JB: Lieutenant colonel. But he is a major...
PL: He started a PhD, he was in a PhD program
in Psychology at the University of Michigan.
JB: He's an amazing man who has studied this for
a long time, and just some of the best leaders,
you just need this time, especially today, to have
solitude. To think. And if you think about it,
meditation is the best. I mean it's the best.
I've used it now for 20 years. Prayer is a similar
vehicle. Exercise is a similar vehicle, where
you shut everything down and you just think.
And it's so important that we turn off the
noise and just get away from it. You just...
JB: The time right now, the focusing times, I
think Mike... These are approximate numbers,
but let's say, people used to stay focused for 30
seconds. Their attention span was 30 seconds, 10
years ago. Well, now it's 15 seconds. We actually
did this with our huddles. When Mike told us,
we tried to break up our huddles to make sure that
we did not go too long in a huddle on one subject,
and changed things around with
a different person talking.
JB: But you're dealing with it, with a... I forget
the numbers but it's unbelievable number of times,
that a high schooler, a college student, a
grade schooler looks at his phone in a day.
And it's hundreds and
hundreds and hundreds that...
And they did the studies too, about if you
put a phone next to you and take a test,
you put a phone in your bag and take a test,
and you put your phone in the next room and
take a test. And consistently data was, you do
the best when the phone is in the other room.
JB: So those things are so important that you shut
out, so you could think clearly. I mean, you have
to be able to do this. It was so important
for me that meditating before every game,
I had a positive one that I did, that I always
saw us winning the game. I always saw our team, me
shaking the hands of the team we'd beat, I could
smell the hotdogs. I did everything to do that so
that when I get into a huddle, I'd been there
before. And it's the power of it, LeBron James
uses it so much. I'm sure the golfers use that
like crazy. I need to start doing it with golf.
JB: So it's like this power that we all
have, you gotta try and make that your
competitive advantage. You have to
make it your competitive advantage.
All the resources we have in that phone, they're
tremendous. But it's like me running too many
plays, if we ran... And I probably did run
too many plays. But we ran 100 plays lousy,
instead of 10 plays really good, we would
have not had the success that we had.
So we're running plays every day, and you gotta
cut it down so that you do what's most important.
PL: Yeah. Everything you're saying
is so important. I wanna focus this
part of our conversation more
on Ford School and Ford School
students, and even all of us here at
the Ford School. We've just come through
a really... Incredibly contentious election year
and election cycle and the aftermath from that,
and to be in the field of public policy and
public affairs is to be up on the news and...
PL: Every bit of news and what's happening not
only in the United States, but globally. And you
sometimes feel like if you
don't look at your phone
for two hours, you're way behind in
the very fast paced news cycle. So,
I know I'm guilty of it. I have my phone by my
bed, and if I wake up in... Which I do every
night, I wake in the middle of night and I check
the COVID numbers and stuff. It's bad, right?
JB: But I think that a part of it has to come...
It's better to have all this information at our
fingertips, but it's too easy. So yeah, actually,
can you give me some advice? [chuckle] For
the people who are sort of in our world,
where again, being up on the news and every
political take on the news is what we do and
we have to do, to do our work in the world.
JB: Well, it's same thing with me. I'm checking
box scores in the middle of the night, see how my
NBA guys are doing or how different teams in the
Big Ten are doing. And people forget that we all
turned out alright when we waited for the paper
to come in the next morning to read the news.
And not very... What you have to do,
anything that's really important,
you're probably gonna get a phone call on. If
you don't respond, you're gonna get a... If it's
really you can't miss it, you're gonna get a phone
call on, and the next day you can take care of it.
JB: But I'm guilty of it. I'm really guilty of
it. I have a lot of things going on and we would
talk with our team about it, but it's something
that we have to address 'cause it's not gonna
get better. One suggestion Mike had, take all your
notifications off your phone. Just eliminate them.
Don't get any notifications, because how many
of them are really important? But how many...
PL: All of them.
JB: Are gonna distract you so much and take you
away from what's really important. And you just
cannot, you can't go there. The other thing again
is that, your brain is scrambled. It is scrambled.
You're not using the parts of the brain that
allow you to be successful. It's just cluttered
in a mess, and I think I do a pretty good job
with it now. I've always done a pretty good
job with it. But I think we're in danger with
the younger generation is growing up with it.
JB: That this is huge, that they understand
this and manage it. You can't eliminate it,
but just manage it better. And make it one
of your goals. I'm not... Like right now,
I'm trying to find a time that I just
do email at this time, I'm not gonna do
any emails during the day, but I'm gonna do it
5:00-6:00 at night or 7:00-8:00 in the morning.
JB: That's it, I'm not gonna look at it again.
And then I've gone where I'm not looking at the
sports scores 'til tomorrow morning. I'm just not
gonna do it. Believe it or not you young ones, if
the team played on the West Coast back when I was
growing up, we had to wait for the evening news
to get the scores the next day. You had to go
out to the mailbox to get the evening news,
and then you'd find out how the Cardinals and
the Dodgers did in a game, 'cause it wasn't...
JB: Or everybody stayed up 'til 11 o'clock
to get the news, 11 o'clock every night on three
channels. So we all got through that alright,
our generation turned out alright,
we don't need all of this.
PL: Alright. Well, how about we make a deal?
I'll hold you to not looking at the sports
scores all the time, and then I'll try not to
look at the daily new COVID numbers every day.
PL: Alright. Alright, I'm looking at some
questions that have come in from audience members,
so let me peek at that. So someone from the
Ford School posted this question. Often,
teams will have two members who clash in
some way. It can be just a personality clash,
it could be a clash around values that you
talked about before. As a leader, how do you
help people on a team resolve those differences?
And then, what do you do if you can't fix it?
JB: I think the best way that we've always
done this, and we've had these issues before,
when you have two or three guys all trying
to have the same goals, make it to the NBA.
There's gonna be these times where somebody
shoots when somebody else is open, etcetera.
The best way that we've been able to handle it
was, let's all get in the room together with...
Always say as a leader, always have somebody
else in the room with you that is another leader.
JB: Do not ever meet with anybody individually,
because you wanna make sure that everybody repeats
what was said in there and there's somebody
else to hear it. But we gotta take an assistant
coach, and one time we had four players that all
had taken the same amount of shots over like
20 games. They were within one shot per game
of each other, but all of them were wondering,
didn't think they were getting enough shots.
JB: So we had to say to them,
"Alright, so what do you want us to do?
Once so and so gets to eight shots,
he can't shoot anymore because
they're leaving him open, but you gotta get your
shots too." I mean, you just be real with them.
And I think when you get... When
you take two people like that
and you put them in a room with an assistant
coach or a co-manager or something, and just say,
"This is our observations, how can we assist
you? What are the differences? You are two... "
JB: Be positive. "You are two amazing talents,
and we wanna get the best out of both of you.
But I don't see that happening right
now because of some friction. How can
we eliminate that? Because that's one thing,
that's one value, we cannot coexist that way."
And that's where you're gotta be real with
them. You gotta tell them, "You guys can get
this done or I'm gonna have to get it done. But
let's talk it out and maybe I can advise you."
JB: Any time... There are so many
times that you have to tell the truth.
Just tell the truth. And I'm not saying people
lie, I'm just saying tell them the truth
and show them data. It's always good to have big
data too. To show them, not, "Oh, this is one game
or this was one event," show them over a year.
Keep a log. That's what all these... I always
keep a log on everything that's going on, for
your own protection, but more to say, "Okay... "
JB: They'll say, "You know like,
you... Last night, you didn't... Yeah,
I didn't like the way you were in the locker
room, and you said some things," and then,
"Well, it's only once, Coach." I said, "No, let's
go back to last year and then via this year,
and then this." These things are really
important as a leader. You don't wanna do it,
but that's... No leader ever
usually complains on payday.
JB: There's extra responsibilities to being
a leader, there's extra responsibilities,
and you can't say, "They'll
figure it out," or "Damn them,
they're not good teammates." No, you're the
leader. You gotta figure out a way to do this,
and it usually works out. But not if you hide
from it or you pull one in and talk to him,
then pull the other one in, and nobody knows
that you talk to each other and you're trying
to slip it in the side door. No, just face
it right in front of you in a positive way.
PL: Did you ever have the experience that
you couldn't work it out between two people?
JB: It was more of the person in the team.
PL: The person in the team.
JB: And finally at some point, we had to
let people go. We just had to say, "Listen,
this is good luck, and you're still on
scholarship, but we have to move on,
we have to move on. So it's just best for you,
and it's best for the team." And it's hard,
but I think virtually every place that
I've been, that has happened at least once,
and virtually every place that we've been,
there's been success following that. Because...
JB: And maybe success for them too,
more success for them, but certainly
for us every time. Addition by
subtraction, you don't want it,
but if people have their values are that different
and they're not willing to see eye to eye,
then you gotta... And maybe two people have to
go if... Both if it continues to go, but usually
the one that you see is the most detrimental to
it, you know that you have to make a decision.
PL: Hard decision.
JB: Hard decision.
PL: Alright, another question from the audience.
When you are the leader of a team for a
long time, how do you maintain engagement
of that team, and what strategies do
you use to continually be effective?
JB: Yeah, that is a good question because I
didn't have to do that until I was at Michigan.
Every place I'd been except Le Moyne was five
years. Five years, fix it. Five years, move on.
Fix the program, move in another direction.
Then after being at Michigan for the first five,
I realized I had to continue to
evolve. I had to do self-analysis
to see who I was, and understand
it was I in touch with the team.
JB: It's so important that they understand, I
said this this morning, that you have to stay,
continue to relate with your team members, and
try to stay up with what's important to them.
And as you're with somebody a long time,
you're gonna get older, they might get younger,
and you have to ensure you can relate with
them, number one. You have to show that
you care about them off the court, off the
field, out of the business room, number two.
JB: Then you have to show them you know your
stuff. So all of a sudden you've been in this,
you've been coaching or you've been leading,
but you're not ready to go in the digital age
because you're uncomfortable with
it, and you're still trying to lead,
you're not gonna be able to lead
anymore. So do you know your stuff?
JB: And then can you benefit them? Can
you make them better? That's one that
I brought in a woman from Cal to coach at
the Cavaliers, one of the first women to be
on the bench. There's several now, she was not
the first, but few. And that's how she coached
those three things, and I talk to everybody
about that now, those four values there.
JB: But the biggest thing is relate with them,
that you know that you can relate with them
and you care about them off the court. So that's
basically how you get to that point in leadership.
PL: So that, the example you just gave makes me
really... I really wanna ask you, were there any
gender issues with bringing in a woman to
coach at the professional basketball level?
And I know that it's not the first time this has
happened. But in my work, I think a lot about
gender issues and other kinds of identity
issues on teams. So I'm just wondering if
you have any... How that experience
and other experiences, how gender...
JB: Getting Lindsay a locker room was the hardest
thing in the NBA, that she could have her own
locker room. And so we built her one, as she was
the only one, but we built her own locker room,
and there was just these things that we had to do.
But she brought a perspective that was very unique
and we really... She's gonna be as
long as she wants to stay in the pros,
she can be able to stay in the pros as
long as she wants, because she has...
JB: And I don't wanna put it out there that
just women are empathetic, but she had a
look at things, her empathy for our players, her
relationship building with our players was just,
she was so authentic with them.
And they really, they loved her,
and so it was really turned out
to be a great move for both.
But that was the only thing. There was no
really difference that we had to be aware of.
PL: Thanks for that. Alright. So another
question from the audience. Did you use
different leadership styles for
dealing with younger, young men
when you were coaching college
basketball versus professional?
JB: Oh yeah, it's gotta be very different. 'Cause
you have them somewhat... They have school,
they have their study halls, you have a
responsibility to make sure they're getting
an education, and that you can really...
You might not regulate their life, but you
can direct their life a little bit different.
JB: So this is the time
practice is, this is the time...
You're not gonna go in for the classes,
you're not gonna go in for the study hall,
you gotta practice at a certain time,
these are when your meals are set up.
Wherein the pros, it's all they have their money
and they know when practice is, and that's it. And
that's it. And you try to catch them whenever you
can to have individual relationships with them.
JB: But it's really hard because they're grown
up men, they have families and they do not...
You don't have these situations where you can
really meet with them the way you'd like to.
So it's hard, I think and what I learned, if I
was back in that arena again, I would probably
work even harder at it now, and I know that how
hard it was to do. But it is difficult to do.
JB: And then college is... And then younger
players in college opposed to older players in
college, our leadership with the younger players
in college was basically really trying to teach
them what they didn't have. They didn't not just
know it, they had no idea they didn't know it.
They really are coming in extremely naive
to what it takes to be a good teammate,
good... They've been stars their whole
life. And now you bring them in there,
and there's really, it's a time period.
JB: Very few freshmen are like a Hunter
Dickinson or a Trey Burke. Very, very few.
Or have that opportunity. Most need some time.
And you have to give them that time,
you have to have patience. But you also
can't let them slide on the important values of
integrity, of hard work, those type of things.
PL: Okay, thank you. Another audience
question. Do you think that our current
political leaders could use some
team bonding and leadership training?
JB: Don't get me going here.
PL: Sorry. [chuckle] There are
Ford School questions, for sure.
JB: Yeah, I'm gonna stay neutral here but
I have never... I grew up in an era of John
F. Kennedy being elected to be the President,
my mother and father, both active in politics.
This past year has been amazing. But the
way that I think that we used to have...
And we got professors out there. I think
we used to have about 60% in the middle
and about 20% at each end, and it seems now
we have 40% at each end and 20% in the middle.
JB: And so somehow, but just
listening to each other.
And here's one thing, just tell
the truth. Just tell the truth. And
have no political agenda other than do what's
right and do the next right thing over and over
again, and a lot of our issues be... Don't worry
about being re-elected, don't worry about anything
except doing the next right thing. And I think
it would solve a lot of our problems right now.
JB: And be vulnerable and you'll bond because
if you're vulnerable, then he or she on the
other side of the aisle is gonna be vulnerable.
And it will go back and forth, and pretty soon
you'll realize, everybody's got flaws and we
can work together. How's that? Is that good?
PL: That was good. That was great.
JB: I stayed apolitical.
PL: You're not gonna get
in trouble on that at all.
JB: I'd get in trouble what I say around my house.
PL: Alright. Bear with me a moment, I'm looking
at some of the other questions. So someone just
wrote, "I'm the captain on my volleyball team.
My teammates are complaining about a player who
has great potential but won't bring her best, but
thinks she is the best. What should I say to her?"
JB: You are much more powerful than you think. But
you are not going to do it by ramming it, by just
making her, forcing it on her. I think building
a relationship with her, or he if it was a male,
that she believes in you and she trusts you.
And with other teammates, that are willing to
get her to pivot little by little.
She's not gonna change overnight.
JB: Little by little, in this direction
of being a team player, team first.
The more you give yourself just... Give yourself
to the team. Just do it. Give yourself to the
team and watch what a great game you'll have,
personally. And gradually they'll get there. But
most young players will come in like that and
gradually, they will learn and they probably...
The four stages of learning. Are you ready?
JB: The four stages of learning and as you try and
teach or lead, is that basically our freshmen were
unconsciously incompetent. Most of them. That they
didn't know what they didn't know. Next stage,
sometime in their freshman year, they'd become
consciously incompetent. "Oh, I see, there's a
lot more to this. I gotta eat right. I gotta
go to bed on time. I need to share the ball."
JB: Then they become consciously competent. They
really have to think about it, and they can do it,
but they gotta think about it. And then the
great players, the great teams, are unconsciously
competent. They don't have to think about it,
they coach each other, they coach other people.
JB: And that's where this young
lady is right now. If she's a young,
really good player, she probably doesn't
know it all, and you can't expect her to.
She's never been in Big Ten, University
of Michigan, you can't expect her to. So,
teach her gradually. It could be a
quiz on those four consciousness.
PL: I like that. Alright, last question.
PL: I'll give you a chance to make any parting
shots that you want. So what advice do you have
for students today, and in particular Ford School
students, but all students I think, who share
the goals of wanting to make a difference and
wanting to improve institutions and communities
in a very political and fractured
world. What advice do you have to
the leaders and best who are currently
students at the University of Michigan?
JB: Well, this is another one from Dave Brandon,
and I hope I've... I don't mean... Again, I
don't mean to be dropping names, I just... I don't
wanna take credit, but I'm gonna keep living these
things 'cause I surrounded myself with leaders
so I could become a better leader. David's quote,
"Leadership is not a position. Leadership is
a lifestyle." Leadership is not a position,
it's a lifestyle, and that's the advice I give
people when they're out there and they wanna lead.
JB: There's another quote that, "Integrity
is a light. Send a signal." Send a signal
wherever you go about integrity, where it could
be as simple as, you know when you had the meal
in the restaurant, they under-charged you and all
of a sudden you're going back and saying, "Hey
listen, I owe you five more dollars." Or you know
that you did not do your group well enough in that
simple group that you just didn't work hard enough
that everybody at work, you apologize to it.
JB: There's little signals you can send out that,
"I'm trying to do everything the right way,"
and that just is a domino effect everywhere.
And when you live this, you just can't turn
leadership on and off. With the price of that,
you could do 100 things well. John Beilein right
now, I could do 99 things to do well. I could be
wrapping bandages for the Red Cross all day long,
but if I go out and get a DUI, it all goes away.
JB: You are held to a higher standard if you
really wanna be a leader with that responsibility,
that there's a lot of accountability to it, and
it's so important that you just live that life
and it's not easy. This is like my favorite
quote, "It's simple, but it's not easy."
JB: Just doing the next right thing to
your conscious every day as a leader,
or as one who wants to be a leader that is
not maybe ready for that, just doing the
next right thing is simple, but it is not easy.
For example, Paula, tonight when you go to bed,
you're gonna take that phone, it's simple,
you could physically put it in the kitchen.
PL: I'm not sure about that. [chuckle]
JB: It's simple but it's not easy. And so
that's when teams see that, when you see that,
it's that day-to-day grind. I was on a
leadership call with some Navy Seals,
there was five or six guys, this got the
SALA Series, and there was two Navy Seals
and they were talking about making it through
Hell Week, and if anybody knows about that,
and these are approximate numbers again, but let's
say 100 guys come in on Sunday, whoever makes it
to Friday, maybe 10 will make it to Friday
become Seals, the other 90 get washed out.
JB: And the one that made it said, "The ones that
don't make it, they don't make it to Friday... Or
they don't make it, are the ones that are saying,
"All I gotta do is make it to Friday, all I gotta
do is make it to Friday." They never make it to
Friday 'cause they're not living the day-to-day.
The ones that say, "All I gotta do is make
it to lunch. And now all I gotta do is make
it to dinner, and all I gotta do is make it
to bedtime," those are the ones that make it.
JB: And that's why these little things of going
through life trying to do just the next right
thing that comes in front of you. You
don't know how many times I have a former
player come up to me and just say, "Just
trying to do the next right thing Coach,
just trying to do the next right thing."
'Cause they're out there, they're out there.
PL: That's so great.
JB: I'll go on for hours, for a long time.
PL: You know, I'm looking at the time.
We are at the hour, so it's gone so fast.
It's been amazing. Thank you so much for sharing
your time, but also your wisdom, your inspiration,
your experience. Just can't thank you enough
on behalf of the Ford School community,
so please accept our warmest thanks. Best
wishes to you and your family, and go Blue!
JB: Go Blue every day of our lives. Every day.
So thank you, everybody. Love the Ford School.
As I said, my son, Andy is a graduate. I love the
Ford School, and you're all in a great place, and
I'm envious of all of you because you're
in the Ford School at one of the most
interesting political times in the history of
the world, and certainly the United States.
JB: So embrace every minute of it. It's all... All
this adversity is gonna provide incredible growth
for all of you. And if things were easy, you
don't grow. When things are tough, you get pruned,
you grow. So good luck to everybody. And thanks
for listening to me, and I hope I was helpful.
PL: Without a doubt, you were. Thank you so
much. Thank you everyone for joining us today.
Everyone be safe. Thank you.