Building an identity: #1 What it means and how it can be implemented

New month, new topic. Previously we talked about measuring performances, and how effective ways of measuring it can be crucial for player development, team success and even the creation of a long-term identity. Now, we will be picking up where we left, talking about identity, what it means, how it can be implemented and a few of the practices and methods I have experienced in the “identity-building” process.

The base for any identity is the values, principles and characteristics associated with it, and there are plenty of examples in the sports world that can help look for that definition. We all can recognize a Greg Popovich or Steve Kerr’s team in basketball, a Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho’s team in soccer, but the same happens with Steve Job’s Apple, Bill Gates’ Microsoft or Phill Knight’s Nike. Why? They all knew and did everything they needed to make sure everyone in their team knows what is expected from them, and what it means to represent the team/club/company they work for. How? What we call “team identity” can be supported by many factors: psychological, technical, physical, structural. Both on and off the field, your team reflects the messages, lessons, and values you provide them: how do you act when you lose? Do people know their roles in the team? Are you reactive or proactive? Do you base your decisions in your emotions or critical thinking?

All these different questions are answered by the way you act every day. The hardest part of building a team and creating an identity that will support the team and your work along the years is to go from “what I want my team to look like” to “what I will do to get my team to be what I want it to look like”. Sounds confusing, but going from theory to practice takes time, and takes a lot of energy focusing on small details that might seem irrelevant. With pre-season in collegiate sports starting soon, I will be touching on this topic for the next weeks and going deep into some critical thinking and methods I have been presented with.