Core values driving sustained elite performance cultures
Organizational culture within sport has an important influence on the performance and well-being of the group and individuals. Often, cultural descriptions are based on teams' results (e.g., winning teams have strong cultures and losing teams have poor cultures). However, these after-the-fact cultural labels ignore the myriad underlying factors that contribute to the group's culture. The preponderance of organizational culture research in sport has tended to either focus on culture at the macro level (e.g., cultures of national governing bodies or athletic departments) or focus on culture change (essentially the mechanisms and processes through which poorly performing cultures changed their fortunes). However, there has been limited research looking at the cultures of programs who have sustained high-level performance for long periods of time. Moreover, there is even less research looking into the core values of such programs, one of the three levels of Schein's (Schein, 1990; Schein and Schein, 2017) culture analysis model. Therefore, this phenomenological study aimed to understand the perceptions and experiences of head coaches in leading and developing their sustained elite-performing cultures; specifically, this study targeted the role of core values within these cultures' development, an area lacking sufficient research (Wagstaff and Burton-Wylie, 2018). Analysis of experienced championship coaches' responses (n=5) revealed that core values focused on growth and development within sport and beyond, as well as the ways in which group members treat each other. Coaches also revealed that bringing these values off the page required consistent, daily, intentional effort, with values serving as touchstones when actions deviated from them.
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