"Gather before me my loyal followers, those who have made a covenant with me and sealed it with sacrifice." Let the heavens declare the rightness of his cause; for God himself is judge.
- Psalm 50:5,6
In the spring of 2009, Tony Bennett was hired as the Men’s Basketball coach at the University of Virginia and the program was forever changed. For a lot of fans, the initial reaction to the hire was, “who?” Some wanted another more well-known coach, and some just knew little-to-nothing about Coach Bennett. Then University President, John Casteen, emphasized Bennett’s stellar abilities in “building teams and winning with the teams he’s built,” and highlighted his success as a coach at Washington State. Since then, Tony Bennett has built a remarkable program, namely winning the 2019 National Championship. He built his program atop what he refers to as the “five pillars”: humility, passion, unity, servanthood and thankfulness.
Humility: Know Who We Are
“The humble colleague is more likely to cultivate trust, encourage an exchange of ideas, help others develop while being open to their own areas for development, show empathy and generosity, and succeed at work that requires change or assessment. Humility leads to genuine collaboration – the cornerstone of any high-functioning team.” (Sean Martin)
Passion: Do Not Be Lukewarm
“The best leaders see how each person on the team can contribute to the overall goal – and inspire them to strive for that goal every day.” (Morela Hernandez)
Unity: Do Not Divide Our House
“In any team, there will be conflict. More important is how the team functions as a whole and how skilled its members are……the most successful teams communicate well, building on each other’s ideas. They agree on the team’s overarching mission, but they also each have a meaningful, internalized objective that makes the broader goal their own.” (Lynn Isabella)
Servanthood: Make Teammates Better
“The best teams help each teammate become a better version of themselves. How can we help our colleagues – and ourselves – bring our ‘whole selves’ to work?” (Mary Gentile)
Thankfulness: Learn From Each Circumstance
“Be thankful each morning for the gift of life – another day to embrace your learning journey. Give thanks throughout your day to those that serve you, help you and who are kind and giving to you. Give thanks to those people who have the courage to help you learn by pointing out your mistakes or transgressions and who challenge you to take your ‘game’ to a higher level.” (Ed Hess)
I can only imagine the impact that Coach Bennett makes on his players. Not only on the basketball court, but in their lives. To be coached a leader with such a strong moral and spiritual compass is pretty remarkable.
Musical Reflection - Better When We're Together - Jack Johnson