Over the past several weeks we’ve been posting suggestions and ideas concerning the creation of team buy-in. Most of those posts have contained at least one reference to Jon Gordon’s great book “The Energy Bus.”
Long before Gordon’s book was ever written, the University of Michigan’s iconic football coach, Bo Schemebechler used his own team bus to create buy-in and unity.
“When we hammered home our famous mantra, “The team, the team, the team,” that didn’t leave a lot of room for interpretation. When I came up with that, I wasn’t trying to be clever.
It means if you’re late for the team bus, I don’t care if you’re Jim Mandich, Anthony Carter and Desmond Howard rolled into one. That bus is leaving, it’s leaving on time—and it’s leaving without you!
Look, they know Bo is always sitting up at the front of the bus, and when pullout time comes, he just checks his watch and says, “Driver, it’s time to go.” We don’t have anyone checking who’s here and who isn’t.
We don’t check! I never took roll. If you’re on the bus, you must be on time, and if you’re not on the bus, you must be late, and it’s your fault. Driver, it’s time to go!
We’ve had guys running up to the bus as we were pulling out—starters, even—and the guys on the bus always started yelling, “Coach! So-and so’s running up to the bus!” I didn’t care who it was.
I guarantee you right now I never even turned around to look, because the answer was always the same: Driver, it’s time to go!
Everyone knew Bo’s not mad at you, he’s just leaving you. And I’ll tell you why: Because it’s just not fair to the other guys who took the trouble to get there on time. The bus waits for no man!
Driver, it’s time to go!
And as your big All-American grows smaller in the bus’s rearview mirror, he’ll have time to consider if you really meant what you said about the team, the team, the team. Leave a guy standing in the parking lot just once, and you better believe he’ll be a half-hour early next time.
Once everyone knows I’m not holding the bus for anyone, trust me, they get there. They always do.
That bus symbolized the foundation of our values: simple, straightforward, no exceptions. You start cutting corners for this guy or that situation, and before you know it, you’re spending all your time playing judge and jury, deliberating over very little incident, when you should be leading your team.
It’s painful sometimes, but you create a lot fewer headaches for everyone, including the players, when you simply stick to your guns.”
From “Bo’s Lasting Lessons” by Bo Schembechler and John U. Bacon