Temple University basketball coach Fran Dunphy said that leaders make sure all problems are addressed and try to find the best way to solve them. Dunphy’s talk on leadership was the first of four lectures by well-known leaders. Dunphy’s long record as a leading basketball coach for the past 20 years include 10 ivy League titles at the University of Pennsylvania, including five perfect seasons.
He spoke for almost an hour on Sept. 9 in the Widener Lecture Hall, about numerous topics that have shaped him into the proven and trusted leader he has become. He described himself as the luckiest man in the world because has had great help around him to help him succeed.
“It was a beautiful thing for a hall of fame coach to share his wisdom about the basketball world and how to be successful,” assistant basketball coach Saleem Brown, said.
His speech involved what he called the three A’s. The first is awareness. He said, “If you look at things as difficult then they are.” He was describing how leaders must have faith in the fact that you have the ability to accomplish anything you attempt to do. Awareness includes if a colleague is having a bad day, a leader will speak with the person to find the problem and a solution.
Dunphy also told a story from early in his career, when his mustache was the size of a two-bedroom apartment as he put it, that helped him when facing adversity. He spoke about how overcoming adversity makes you a better person.
It was early in the season for Dunphy’s Penn Quakers when they were playing its rival Princeton Tigers as both teams came into the game undefeated. His team started the game perfectly, taking a big 30-point lead into halftime leading by over 30 points. He was feeling very confident they were going to win the game, when all of a sudden Princeton couldn’t miss while Penn was playing incredibly bad and ended up losing the game. It was the worst loss of his career, and afterwards in the locker room he didn’t know what to say to his distraught players.
This is when overcoming adversity stuck for Dunphy, because he and his players talked about what they needed to do to win and from there on out that’s all they did. Dunphy admits he would never change that game because he learned so much from that night.
Dunphy found out early in his career that he can’t do everything himself if he wants to be successful. He spoke about how a leader has to be able to trust others so the whole team can succeed.
He gave an example of how he used to always plan out the practice for the following day. One day, however, he gave that assignment to two assistant coaches because he was pressed for time. The practice that day was managed better and went more smoothly. He realized he wasn’t good at making a practice and hasn’t done it since.
He said it’s hard to let others take control sometimes, but a true leader has to be able to see what is best for the whole team.
His last “A” was accountability. You must be accountable for your actions, Dunphy said. He said that everyone will make mistakes, but the ability to fix the mistake is what makes a leader.
“His speech was very inspiring. In my eyes, he showed me that hard work does pay off,” Brown said.
Dunphy’s final answer to a question was the advice: “if you’re a good person and you work hard, things will be ok.”