Winning Culture on the Gridiron: Lessons from Rutgers Head Football Coach Part 2

Last week, Rutgers head football coach Greg Schiano joined my class, and inspired us with lessons of success, motivation, and leadership. For those who may not know, Schiano is one of the best college football coaches in the country, and is a master at culture building. In part 1 of the Schiano's lessons, they were very centered around core values, and aligning your entire organization with specific values to win. Part 2 was just as intriguing, as Coach Schiano gave out even more advice in how to create a winning culture.

Prioritize Character Over Ability

When Greg Schiano took over as Rutgers head football coach in late 2019, he knew he had to align the entire organization with his winning values. A massive part of doing this is understanding the importance of prioritizing character over ability. That is to say, only individuals who fit the new values and morals of the organization can stay in the organization -- regardless of talent. This often meant removing extremely talented players from the team, but in terms of overall growth of the organization, talent who didn't fit the values was holding it back. The same goes for recruiting new players into the program. Only players who fit the culture will receive scholarships, it doesn't matter if a player has all the talent in the world, if he is not a cultural fit, the team won't win. The same applies for any organization, program, or business. Only bring in individuals who fit your culture, even if that means sacrificing talent.

Find Your Passion

This lesson is less focused on organizations, and more on individuals themselves, but it's a powerful one nonetheless. When talking to a bunch of college students, many of whom are still deciding on their course of studies, career path, etc. Coach Schiano spread the simple message of finding one's passion. He said, "do everything you can to find your passion, and then find someone to pay you for it." He also said that you know something is your passion when you lose track of time doing it, and noted that he often has to explain to his wife that he was late for dinner because he was spending too much time at the team facilities watching film and working out with players. Coming from a guy like Schiano, this message was extremely motivating. He's a person who has spent his entire life doing what he loves, and had great success doing so. Is that not what we all should strive for?

After reading these lessons, I hope that Coach Schiano's words were as moving for you as they were for me. He puts a true emphasis on winning and culture building, and truly prioritizes the happiness of the individuals in his program. He's a passionate leader who knows how to win, and his lessons will lead anyone down a path of success.