What’s the Big Deal about Attitude?
by guest blogger Noelle Greene
You have heard it said that attitude makes a big difference. I disagree.
I think attitude makes ALL the difference.
My son is very talented at throwing a football, and ranks in the top two for throwing and passing on his team. He can even throw both right- and left-handed. Because he is naturally talented, he likes to think that he will get the respect of his coach and teammates just for his ability. When he is trying to make a point or say something, he feels others should listen to him and do it his way because he thinks he is right, due to his talent. He thinks this natural talent gives him the freedom to cop an attitude when things don’t go his way.
A coach - a good coach - doesn’t want a player with a bad attitude on his team because this attitude does not make for a good team player. When one player has a sour view of things, it brings the others around him down. Think of the quote, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Or “A little leaven leavens the whole loaf.” One rotten attitude in the whole bunch rubs off on those around and pretty soon the whole bunch is spewing negative comments and griping about the team, the coach, the situation...Who wants to be around this kind of person who brings others down all the time?
This negative attitude can destroy a player and a team, says Delice Coffey, who writes for Basketball Psychology Articles. She says:
“The right attitude can drive a mediocre player to great success, but a very talented player can find himself on the bench if a poor mental attitude exists. There are countless athletes who possess tremendous mentaltoughness and physical ability but who failed to reach their potential simply because of their attitude.
“In April 2012, Lakers v. Golden State Warriors, Andrew Bynum took a three-pointer, which enraged his coach, and resulted in him barely seeing the court again for the rest of the game. Bynum told the media horde following the Laker victory that he didn’t truly understand why he was benched, and said he would launch more three pointers in the future.”
The LA Times described the coach’s actions and the player’s attitude:
(Coach) Brown yanked Andrew Bynum from the game early in the third quarter after the center badly missed a three-point shot, though Bynum appeared amused on the bench as he mimicked the form on his release. “That’s something that I thought could have taken us out of rhythm, so I took him out of the game,” Brown said.
Delice continues: “So what does this say about Andrew Bynum’s mental game in basketball? What does it say about his attitude? What does it say about attitude in general? Defiance of the coach and what he wants a player to do in a situation is a display of poor attitude. A player determining to do it his way is a display of poor attitude. But one thing is clear, attitude and the way you channel it is extremely important in not only your own success as an athlete but also in the success of your team as a whole.”
Picture a temper tantrum in a two-year-old…cute, right? How about in a ten-year-old? A teenager? An adult? Not so cute anymore, right? We’ve all seen it!
But what happens when one player has an attitude of encouragement – of inspiration, motivation, and a willingness to give everything he’s got?
One example of exceptional attitude in a player and the difference it made in his team comes from askAlana.com in 2000:
“…Austin is a running back, listed as 5 feet tall, 100 lbs--by far our smallest guy. He never missed a practice, never talked back to the coaches, never asked about playing time. Austin was 3rd string and would not get much playing time, but he loved playing football so much, that if he could only play by coming to practice, then that's what he would do.
“Since he was 3rd string RB, it meant he ran the ball against our first string defense in practice. He never hesitated to run right at guys who were 6 foot tall and 200 lbs, literally twice his size. Our defense would feel bad after some plays, but Austin would always get up and walk back to the huddle and continue on.
“Our last game of the year pitted us against our archrival. We had many players injured, so in our pre-game meeting, I declared Austin our team captain in order to inspire the team. The team really got pumped up. Then one hour before the game, our starting Running Back could not play due to an injury. So when we went through our pre-game walk through, I inserted Austin into the starting line-up. The entire team got fired up. Austin could not believe he would actually get to play in a game, and would start!
“The first play of the game our player got tackled very hard by the opposing team. The next play had the same result. It was obvious to me and the rest of the coaches our team was too small and slow to keep up with the opposing team. We were in for a long night. However, the next play changed the game; we scored a touchdown on a long run. Austin played the entire game, catching passes, carrying the ball, blocking for our other running backs and even scoring his first ever touchdown. We won the game 46 to 6.
“After the game I spoke to the opposing coach. He could not believe his team lost (their worst loss of the season.) I could not believe we won (our best game of the season.) It was truly a magical game and I truly believe it had mostly to do with Austin and his attitude inspiring our team. Every time he caught a pass or ran the ball, our team gave it a little extra.
“He inspired us all.”
Attitude should come above and before talent. A coach can improve a player’s talent if the player is willing to learn, work hard, and be determined to grow. But it’s harder for anyone to change an attitude because that attitude is part of who a person is – what our character is like is hard to change, especially the older we get!
Each team is only as good as its weakest link – its lowest player. But each team’s attitude is only as good as most positive member – its morale leader. When a coach finds one who is positive (even in the midst of a difficult situation) – who looks for the silver lining – who finds the valuable gem in each situation – he should grab hold and invest in that team player.
This inspirational attitude in a team player translates into the business world. Just as attitude is important in a team sports player, so it is key in business, for no employee is an island but works as part of a bigger picture. Attitude is that extra, elusive quality that coaches (hiring managers and CEO’s) are desperately trying to find.
Noelle Greene is newly employed by People First Productivity Solutions as Training Coordinator. As a leader, it’s imperative to understand why and how to show ever person that you care about them. Learn more about how you can CONNECT2Lead. And be sure to subscribe to the CONNECT2Lead Blog for weekly tips and techniques on leading with a people first approach.