LeadUP! Sean Murray

In this LeadUP! Conversations episode, Dr. Kathryn Bingham and Sean P. Murray talk about his book, If Gold is Our Destiny and what it takes to elevate leadership and build high performance teams. The book describes how the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team overcame serious challenge and move from 13th place to win Olympic gold in 1984. Embedded in the narrative are insights for leaders and teams to become exceptional. Key points include:

  • While volleyball is a United States invented sport (late 1890s), the U. S. was not considered competitive at an elite level in the time leading up to the events of the book.
  • Like many U. S. teams, elite individual athletes were brought together to form a national team, giving them a few months to practice together. In contrast, many national teams at the time—in the Soviet Union, Italy, Japan, Brazil, and others—trained and played together throughout seasons and years.
  • It’s possible for individuals and teams to “crack the code” for shifting from competing mavericks to a cohesive, high performing team.
  • Much like teams in organizations and businesses, the men’s volleyball team had alliances along beach vs court players, east vs west coast origins, specific university play (USC, UCLA, Pepperdine, San Diego State, and others), and other sources of internal competition.
  • Sean’s dad, Don Murray, and his dad’s partner, Chuck Johnson, pioneered methods for identifying a team’s mission, values, and processes to unite and achieve challenging goals.
  • Pivotal moments in the team journey included an Outward Bound event—a 100 mile course of mountain climbing, snowshoeing, orienteering, and camping.
  • Key question: What’s “your” gold medal?
  • Watch or listen here.

Sean P. Murray is the president and founder of RealTime Performance and the host of The Good Life Podcast. Based outside of Seattle, RealTime Performance is a development firm that helps business professionals achieve their full leadership potential. With his podcast, Murray explores what it takes to live a satisfying and valuable life.

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