Pat Summitt: It’s Always About The People!

In business and outsourcing the best plan will always fail without the right people that have the ability to implement the plan and see it through.

I think about this when I think about Pat Summitt, the legendary coach of the University of Tennessee’s Lady Vols basketball team. You probably know of my connection to the University of Tennessee, so of course I’m a little biased – but her record speaks for itself.

Summitt has won eight NCAA titles in her 37 seasons as the Lady Vols coach, and her 1,075 victories is the most by any college basketball coach. Over that span her teams have lost a mere 199 games!

The NCAA will honor Summitt with the 2012 Gerald R. Ford Award, which recognizes a person who has been an advocate for college athletics over the course of his or her career. She’ll be honored Jan. 12 at the 2012 NCAA convention in Indianapolis.

Her achievements are almost unbelievable but she knows—as any great leader knows—that they are not individual or personal accomplishments. Her proven, winning system  can’t work without the right people to make it work, as illustrated in this ABC News Person of the Week clip: “You win in life with people. And if you think you can do this alone – you’re wrong.”

I often say that one of the major flaws that emerges in many outsource deals happens when a company that has decided to outsource because it does not have the expertise in a given activity, suddenly feels it is necessary to micromanage the service provider partner that it turned to as the expert in the first place. That’s what I call The Outsourcing Paradox (Ailment 2), and its related ailment, The Activity Trap (No. 3).

Yes, as Summitt says, you can always do better but the best way to maintain consistent excellence is to put the right system in place and then trust your people will do what they do best and make the system soar.

Summitt announced in August that she has been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type. She pledged to continue coaching and show others they can live their lives with the disease.

NCAA president Mark Emmert said the Gerald R. Ford award honors Summitt for “the positive example she continues to set.”

And I would add for the lessons, courage and leadership she exhibits every day.

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