Part 2: Interview with Head Coach Steve Jones on Leadership - Dignify
Log In Try Dignify

Part 2: Interview with Head Coach Steve Jones on Leadership

Wednesday, March 2, 2016 - Joe Kiedinger

Thank you to the over 160 people that attended our Servant Leaders of Wisconsin (S.L.O.W.) event with speaker Steve Jones. Steve is a Leadership Educator and Head Football Coach at Kimberly High School, home of The Papermakers! His passion? Developing leaders that create a winning culture! 

When chatting with Steve, he shared a time when the culture and leadership within the football team was put to the test. It was at the 2015 State Championship game; the Kimberly Papermakers were down 21 points and it was late in the 3rd Quarter. As you can imagine, that kind of point deficit can really bring down the mood of the team. raising_the_trophy_2015But Steve tells us the team didn’t let that happen! Instead of focusing on the negative, the leaders within the team helped all the players stay positive and not give up. This positive thinking and support allowed for the team to come together. With much amazement, they not only overcame the 21-point deficit but WON, earning the 2015 State Championship title! In this one game, Steve saw all of the work they do at the coaching level to guide their team with leadership come to life, and in the most adverse situation they had experienced all season. A key leadership lesson for the coaches and players? It can be easy to lead when things are going well, but during adversity is when you really need a winning culture on your team. Having a winning culture sets up a team for success in the good times and the bad.

We followed up with Steve after his S.L.O.W. event presentation for more leadership insight. 


Q: You spoke about core values. What are the team’s core values and who creates them?

Steve: We have four core values. They are passion, accountability, grit, and F.A.M.I.L.Y.  Family is an acronym – it stands for “Forget About Me, I Love You.”

If someone else gives you a goal, it’s not a goal anymore, it’s an assignment. So, it does not make sense for the coaches to tell the team what the values are. The kids created these four core values.  The team changes every year, so therefore, the values change every year. Each year’s team has ownership of their own values.


Q: How does a team of students work together to develop the core values for their team each year?

Steve: Our core values are developed by our Leadership Council. Our Leadership Council is a group of upcoming juniors and seniors who voluntarily applied to be active leaders of our team. The council meets periodically during the off season and weekly during the season. The council develops the core values based the projected needs of the upcoming season. The council then defines the core values and presents them to the team. This process gives them complete ownership of the core values.   


Q: How are the four core values used throughout the football season?

Steve: We discuss these core values throughout the season. All of the Core Values are equally important and provide us with talking points when situations arise. For example, if we have a player that misses practice and does not communicate with the coaches, we discuss what accountability means in our program and why it is so important in various aspects of life.  


Q: Lastly, what has been your most rewarding leadership moment?

Steve: It’s hard to break it down to just one moment. The most rewarding moments are the times that the kids really surprise you. It’s that freshman or sophomore that you might think doesn’t have what it takes, yet they develop, grow, and change and show you differently! Leadership lessons don’t always come clear in any given moment either. Sometimes years later as adults, they come back and thank you. They may not have “got it” in the moment, but eventually they see what a specific experience or lesson meant to them.


In advance of his presentation at the S.L.O.W. event, Steve shared some details from his own leadership journey. If you missed it, check out Part 1: Interview with Coach Steve Jones on Leadership.

Want more winning leadership moments of your own?


More Servant Leadership

Sometimes, all it takes is a little inspiration.

Understanding where others are coming from is critical in communicating and working toward a common cause.