This piece originally appeared at On Leadership at The Washington Post. For the original piece, click here
Even at 5’4”, Kim Mulkey stands out at Baylor University. Since 2005, she has led the women’s basketball team to five Sweet Sixteen appearances, three Elite Eights, two Final Fours, and a NCAA championship win. This year the Lady Bears started 23-0 and have been ranked No. 1 in the country. Since taking over as coach of the Baylor program in 2000, Mulkey has built a powerhouse, and credits her success to a few key factors. In a conversation with Mulkey, we learned what those are.
Mulkey arrived at Baylor more than a decade ago to take the reigns of a struggling basketball team that finished the previous season with a 7-20 record. The first-time head coach was committed to raising expectations on all fronts (personal, academic and athletics) and didn’t waste time. Under Mulkey, players were expected to go to class, perform well academically, be respectful and always work hard. Her standards quickly took hold, guiding a turnaround of unprecedented proportions. In the course of a single season, Baylor basketball went from laughing stock to the NCAA tournament.
Since that remarkable first season, Mulkey’s standards have never dipped. “I want to see them play extremely hard,” Mulkey says, “and I know I’m going to coach hard.” She has an almost intuitive sense for what her players need in order to maintain their effort — whether it’s a hug, wink or a kick in the butt.
The rest of the article can be found here.