Football’s finest. Liberal spreads of food. Eight-figure marketing campaigns and high-octane halftime shows. The annual national fête that is Super Bowl Sunday returns this weekend.
Here in Miami, while the Dolphins may not have made the Super Bowl, our city was encouraged this season by a surge of wins under a first-year head coach that led to the franchise’s first playoff berth in years and a newfound optimism among its fans. Equally as important as any change in personnel, a change in culture is what ultimately has the Dolphins’ arrow pointing up.
Our friend, Yves Batoba, understands the importance of culture in building a winning team firsthand. Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yves grew up in Texas before going on to play football at Oklahoma State University. Upon graduation, he served in numerous athletic administrative roles at the collegiate level and is now the Asst. Director of Player Engagement with the Miami Dolphins. You can also catch him leading a Monday night VOUS Crew and on Sundays with the Venue Control team.
We asked Yves to discuss what a winning culture looks like and the keys to building a championship team. These are truths that translate from the playing field to our daily lives as we build up our families, our careers and one another.
5 KEYS TO BUILDING A WINNING TEAM
1. KNOW WHO YOU ARE
Many people have tried to emulate the model that the New England Patriots have created but have failed because New England’s system is specific to them. There is no “one size fits all.” We can’t do the same thing in Miami because our players are different, our coaches are different, and our location is different. We’re one of the youngest teams in the NFL and we’re in South Florida. This is a set of challenges uniquely ours.
Much of how our head coach, Adam Gase, operates is the product of working next to legends such as Nick Saban, Peyton Manning, and John Fox. But Coach also absorbed from these gentlemen what he didn’t want to do. You have to be you.
2. UNDERSTAND YOUR TEAM
When Coach first arrived, my department spent hours and days and weeks meeting with him so that he could gain an understanding of the makeup of our roster. Strengths. Weaknesses. Mindset. Mental toughness. You have to know who you’re working with.
Coach made phone calls to many players to introduce himself and just chat. You’ve heard, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” well, he showed that he cared. Different guys, different backgrounds, he can relate to anyone. When they know that you care, you get the buy-in.
3. HAVE A VISION
Our team spent months putting together the right vision. This is the blueprint to creating a championship culture and it’s the most challenging part of what I do. The vision has to be powerful enough that team members will put aside their own selfish ambitions because they value the big-picture team vision that much. This is where you map out your short-term goals vs. your long-term goals. We were intentional with our vision by placing signs and mantras around the building that reinforced the team’s beliefs. This was the opportunity to simplify complicated ideas to where the staff, team, and fan base could be unified in understanding the purpose.
4. IDENTIFY CULTURE CARRIERS
You hear the term “culture carrier” all the time at VOUS Church. I always emphasize to our players, “How you do anything, is how you do everything.” We have a whole scouting department that devotes countless hours into finding everything there is to know about free agents and players eligible for the NFL draft.
By the time training camp begins in August, we’ll have 90 guys on our roster. We then cut that number down to 75 before settling on our 53 for opening day. Then we add 10 guys to the practice squad.
We do everything we possibly can to make sure we have the right players on the roster. After that, the coaches and the support staff can only do so much. You trust that you’ve picked the right captains because they’re the ones who will keep the other players accountable. They will communicate the culture to new players coming in. They’re the guys who go about their business the right way on the field and, represent themselves and the team as contributing members of society, the right way off the field.
5. SHOCK THE SYSTEM
Towards the beginning of the season, one of our key players had a horrible week of preparation and a poor attitude through it all. A few hours before the team boarded the plane to play the game, he was told he wouldn’t be traveling with everyone. This was a starter who was heavily involved in the weekly game plan. Inactive. You can imagine how shocked his teammates were to find out about this.
A few weeks later, the same thing happened to another player. A week after that, four players were released from the team in one day. All of them had been former draft picks. This shocked the system. It sent a message that nobody is bigger than the team. Being on a team is a privilege earned each day.
Always Remember; CULTURE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Football is such a demanding sport. There will always come a point during the game when your body is giving up on you. When your number is called and you’re dead-tired and the easy thing to do is to take a play off. But the game becomes bigger than yourself. The only thing that will push you to leave everything you have on the field is knowing that the teammates next to you are trusting you. You don’t want to let them down. It’s no different at home. Or in your office. Or at church. We have to know that the other guy is counting on us to carry the culture. Team chemistry leads to wins. Winning is a by-product of an established culture. Talent and execution will win you games, but culture wins championships.
Super Bowl Sunday at VOUS Church
This week we’ve adjusted our service times. Superbowl Sunday is the perfect opportunity to go to various venues all over the city and show the love of Jesus with anyone we brush shoulders with.
Jose de Diego
3100 NW 5 Ave
Miami, FL 33127
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