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Welcome to the WISE newsletter, a program of
The Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

WISE2006: How Women are Different and Why it Matters

Anson Dorrance is the NCAA National Champion Women’s and Men’s Soccer Coach from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Dorrance has coached the women's team at North Carolina to 18 national soccer championships. His book, The Vision of a Champion: Advice and Inspiration from the World's Most Successful Women's Soccer Coach, is highly regarded.

He began by saying that nothing in his background prepared him for coaching women. He went to a boys’ school (high school) and found his college to be mostly male. He joked about his early experience – or lack of experience – with women. His first coaching job was coaching the men’s team at NC Chapel Hill. He was later asked to coach the women’s team. Research of that time (late 1970s) said that there was no difference between women and men, so he decided to treat both teams the same. This turned out to be a mistake!

In motivating his men’s team, he used a quote from a movie (The Great Santini, I think). It worked very well with the men. He told the men to have the gift of fury and to eat life before life eats them. He then used that same quote (speech) with the women’s team, but it didn’t work!

He has stopped using videotape with the women. Men need videotape because they don’t believe that they have made a mistake. The video allows them to see their mistakes. Men are not willing to accept responsibility. Women, however, are different. Every women takes general criticism personally. With women, they use positive highlight reels to build confidence, not in showing problems.

Men – in college – major in being eligible to play sports and don’t think about their post-college careers. Women, though, were high achievers, but wondered if it would be enough to help them succeed. Would anyone hire them? The men expect to find the best jobs.

With men and women, criticism and praise must be doled out differently. Men and women speak a different language and are motivated differently.

Dorrance is naturally critical of his teams, but has learned to use that criticism differently with men and women.

He believes in personal praise. Women want to hear what they have done well both on and off the field. Women often more readily appreciate praise given in private.

The Competitive Cauldron (sp?) allows athletes to understand how they are competing with themselves and with others. They measure everything, so that the athletes know exactly how they are doing. Very high fitness standards. The lesson? It is okay to be the best. It is okay to win. It is okay to push yourself – to do more than you think you can do. But it is up to us to choose to complete.

He instills 11 core values in his teams. They include (no PowerPoint, so this is my wording):

  1. We don’t whine – “The true joy in life is to be a force for future…” (George Bernard Shaw)

  2. We work hard – invisible determination.

  3. The truly extraordinary do something everyday.

  4. We choose to be positive.

  5. We support the team and its mission.

  6. We don’t freak out over ridiculous issues or create crisis when none exists.

  7. We are well led.

  8. We care about each other as teammates and human beings.

  9. We want our lives to be never ending ascensions.

  10. College is about books and the best available tools. It is a time to master skills that will serve you well for the remainder of your lives.

What you do on your own – without someone supervising you or criticizing you – will help to define your greatness.

Dorrance said that his female players play best when they play for each other. When recruiting women want to know how the team gets along, they don’t care (as much as men) if they are going to start or if they are going to receive a scholarship. The lesson? The importance of morale. Women want to connect to everyone.

We need to compete with remorse.

He said that the women taught him how they wanted him to relate to them. He taught them that it is okay to complete.

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