Michigan State Head Football Coach Mark Dantonio Shares His Philosophy Of Leadership and Recruiting Part 1

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I’m recruiting people right now and talking about what are the goals of our program. Those goals gotta line up because you always want like-minded people working with you. I think that’s important. So what are their goals, what are your goals and do they match, first of all?

I don’t think there’s any coincidence that probably people that profit share as a term of wage are probably more productive than people getting paid on an hourly basis. I think most people are looking for value. When we do things… I’ve heard at business talks or different things that people wanna be valued. As much as they wanna be paid, they wanna be valued. That’s what we try and do here from the very beginning.

The first thing we do is…this is a team organization. Let’s take it back to the recruiting aspect and talk to them about our goals and talk to them about, Here’s our goals. Number one, we’ll have a relationship with you for the rest of your life. Number one goal. Number one goal. If you with your employees, I know you can’t touch everybody, but if you came with your top people and they came with their people and they came with their people, from a pyramid standpoint, if you could have a relationship for the rest of your life, you knew that you were consistent and fair with those people, they will appreciate that and they will have passion.

We talk alot with our football team and with our coaches really about you gotta have a commitment. You gotta have that. You have that relationship. You gotta have a commitment and commitment has to be shared. There has to be communication between the groups involved where there’s a problem, conflict or not. There’s gotta be communication. You did this and I expect this. You did a great job. Here’s what we’re gonna do now. But there’s gotta be communication.

And then there’s gotta be trust. There has got to be trust. We’ve got something that we hand that to and every one of our players have that…a little memento that basically tries to remind them of that. You can see that around the facility here if you look for it. So it starts with the person and the goal and that relationship. I believe if you can form that relationship as a positions coach, as a strength coach, academic advisors, equipment guy, the trainer, the head football coach… If everybody establishes those relationships, that person will go to the ends of the earth for them. And that’s the name of the game.

You wanna control their passion. You want people to be passionate. When I sit and talk to our players and I have an evaluation with them… Every year every player on our team got a ½ hr talk, and it takes a long time to get through those, probably about a month to do that with everything else that’s going on. But when I sit there and talk to them about their goals and what they’re trying to accomplish, it means that you care about them.

I remember when Jim Tressel talked to me in 2001. I thought I was going for an evaluation of the defensive coordinator there. We were okay that year but… I was in there 2 ½ hrs. So I didn’t really know what to expect, even though I had worked with him for 5 years. He started slipping out things like, Here’s your wedding invitation…Here’s when your first daughter was born…Here’s when your second daughter was born…Here’s your goal card 1985-2001. That left quite an impression on me as a person and that meant that he cared. From that point on I was sold. I was sold on him as a person and that he cared about and valued me as a person, not just as a coach. I think it’s gotta be getting there. So we’re looking for those three things: commitment, communication, trust. We’re looking for that relationship.