CEO Blog: Doing it the Wright Way

Published Wednesday, March 28, 2018
by Henry Wallmeyer

Like those of you who filled out a bracket for the 2018 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, mine also is busted. (I am going out on a limb and say that you probably don’t have Loyola-Chicago, Michigan, Kansas and Villanova in the Final Four. But let me know if you do and then please give me the superfecta for the upcoming Kentucky Derby.) 

I know this will be shocking to some of you, but I did pick Villanova to be one of the Final Four teams. While yes, it might have to do with the fact that this Catholic university in suburban Philadelphia educated me in the finer points of commerce and finance; helped build me spiritually through its Augustinian foundation; taught me important societal lessons like Pat’s is a better cheesesteak than Geno’s; and comprises nearly 75 percent of my wardrobe—it has more to do with the program that head coach Jay Wright has built.

Coach Wright has developed a culture at Villanova that ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas says is the best. This culture of “Villanova Basketball” is based on intensity, unselfishness, intelligence and most importantly, playing for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back.

Wright mused that some of his previous teams lacked these core values and subsequently didn’t have that sense of understanding. "One of the things we've learned as a staff is that just because you're winning doesn't mean that the players understand why you're winning" he said. The why is vital.

This belief of the importance of why is a reflection of Simon Senek’s New York Times best-selling book and popular Ted Talk “Start with Why.” (If you have not seen it, it is definitely worth the 18 minutes.) In his talk he states that organizations know what they do and how they do it, but few know why they do it. Those who do know why are the great leaders who inspire action. “Why” is defined as organization’s purpose, its cause, its belief.  Why does your org exist? Why should anyone care?

Take a country club for example. The “what” is that it is a place where people can eat and play golf. The “how” is that a club has food service and a golf course. The “why” is that the members can socialize and interact with like-minded individuals and receive levels of service and attention not offered any place else. Members are buying the why, not the what of a club. They can eat and play golf at any number of places.

As you work with your teams (board and staff) be sure to impress upon them the importance of understanding the why of the club. Because it isn’t just about operating the club successfully, it is knowing why you are successful. The recent Club Trends case study on The University Club (New York) illustrates this point well.

May your club’s culture be one that becomes a winning one, hopefully just like Villanova’s this weekend.

Warm Regards,
Henry Wallmeyer

Henry Wallmeyer


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