Our Insights

The Game Plan For Building a Winning Workplace Culture

May 2, 2019

My love for basketball started when I was a forward for Carlisle’s Junior Varsity team in 7th grade.  At that time, I was tall; however, the next two years determined my fate as a basketball player – a point guard.  Yes, my growth spurt ended in 7th grade.  Gone were my forward days.  I was devastated to move into a new position, a position that didn’t shoot!  In my eyes, my new position as a point guard just wasn’t cool, because I wouldn’t be making a lot of baskets.   Well, I grew to love my new position and now when looking back on those days as a point guard, I wonder if that was the beginning of being a leader of a company, because admittedly, I enjoyed calling out the plays and setting up my team for success.

As a UVA grad and an avid basketball fan, I have consumed a lot of content around UVA’s basketball team these past few months, but I’ve been more interested in Tony— from his basketball brain to his off-the-charts emotional intelligence.

How he built the UVA basketball program is inspirational, and I really wanted to understand his magic formula, because in some ways, I see a similarity between a basketball team and a media team.  I see similarities between his team and mine.    What then can I learn from him that will keep LMP’s team strong and competitive?

I continued my love for basketball by coaching my girls at the YMCA.  Not only was I enjoying the fact that I could still be “in the game”, but I loved working with the girls, seeing them thrive in the sport and growing to love it as much as I do.  As the girls grew, they began to play for their schools.  Boy, those games were hard to watch.  Jimmy, my husband, would jerk me down to the seat, scowl at me and say, “be quiet”.  Yes, I was obnoxious, and, in some ways, I was coaching from the sidelines (I really wasn’t one of those obnoxious parents…I promise).  What I witnessed through those years were teams without teamwork.  The coach always set up plays around the best player, the player who could shoot.  I get it, you need baskets to win. But in my coaching mind, you should be working with all the girls on the team — developing their individual talents, giving them confidence and making them feel that they are contributing to the game.  Looking back as a coach, I loved building a strong basketball team of girls, seeing them excel in their love for the sport and instilling confidence that they could potentially play on the school teams.  Maybe my coaching days was another sign of my future as the leader of a company.

So, looking at my basketball experience and Tony Bennett’s successful career as a coach — now cemented with his NCAA championship — I can’t help but think about what comprises that secret sauce for creating a great team, more specifically for me, a great team of women!  Some of my pillars combined with Tony’s are:

  • Humility (TB)
  • Respect for others (TB)
  • Passion (TB) + Determination
  • Family First, Work Second
  • Gratitude (TB)

The NCAA win was amazing for Bennett, especially after the previous year’s heartbreaking early exit, and a testament to his leadership these past 10 years.  He has developed a wonderful program and modestly, I too would like to say how the LMP team has grown bigger and stronger throughout the last 21 years.  While we don’t have an award to show, we do have new faces on our team, new space for expansion, and happy clients. In other words, we’ve developed a tradition of winning that’s become part of our culture — and we need to continue pursuing it relentlessly each day. Just like Tony Bennett does.

Kay Lawson