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Laura Beeman: Leading to Win

Wow.  Just wow.  I. Am. So. Inspired.  If you ever have a chance to see Laura Beeman, head coach of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine basketball team, give a presentation or speech, I strongly recommend that you go see her.  This morning, as part of our Aloha United Way campaign, we had the privilege of having Coach Beeman come speak at HEC about her experiences as the head coach of the Rainbow Wahine basketball team.  The session was entitled “Leading to Win.”  Staff from HEC member companies, as well as HEC employees, were in attendance.


Without a doubt, Coach Beeman is a fantastic storyteller. She talked to us about how she recently had to hire two new assistant coaches just before the start of the school year (and even got her players involved in the process), what it’s like to manage a squad of female college basketball players (there were some funny stories here!), and how she leads her team (and develops some of her players to lead as well).

In discussing what it took to be an effective leader, Coach Beeman stressed the importance of building relationships, trust & honesty, accountability, and psychological safety.  She also mentioned a team-building philosophy that focused on three things:  Vision, Goals, and Standards of Behavior.  The Vision equates to how the team wanted to be perceived, or their philosophy so to speak.  The Goals were accomplishments the team sought to achieve.  And finally, the Standards of Behavior were how they would reach those Goals (which in turn help fulfill the team’s Vision).

This three-tiered approached reminded me very much of philosophy presented by the author Simon Sinek in his book Start with Why.  In his book, Simon also discusses a similar approach:   Why, What & How.  The Why is similar to Coach Beeman’s Vision; it answers the question of why we do what we do or what is our personal philosophy.  The What is the things we do to fulfill the Why, similar to the Goals set out by Coach Beeman. Finally, the How addresses how we do What we do, similar to Coach Beeman’s Standards of Behavior.  As the title to his book explains, you must start with Why.

There are a lot of similarities between sports and business – i.e. common goals, teamwork, accountability, trust, relationships, etc.  It’s no secret that the success of a team, or a business, starts at the top and trickles down to the players or employees.  After hearing Coach Beeman speak, not only was I incredibly inspired, but I understood how the Wahine Basketball team was able to have such incredible success these past few years (including three consecutive WNIT appearances, a Regular Season Championship, a Conference Tournament Title, and an NCAA tournament berth).

I look forward to their continued success this season and for the years to come.  I am also thankful that Coach Beeman was able to spend her morning with us!