The Basketball Podcast: EP 309 with Juli Fulks on Transformational Leadership

RELEASE DATE : 28/02/2024

In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, Transylvania University head coach Juli Fulks joins the Basketball Podcast to share insights on transformational leadership, positive psychology and playoff preparation.

Juli Fulks has over 360 wins as a head coach and has been the the head coach of the Transylvania University women’s basketball team for the past 10 years. Last year she led Transylvania to remarkable achievements. In the 2022-2023 season, her team achieved a perfect record of 33-0 and secured the NCAA National Championship. During this historic season, they dominated opponents, averaging over a twenty-point differential, scoring more than 70 points per game, while holding their adversaries to under 50 points. The Pioneers also clinched their fifth consecutive Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) title and completed two consecutive years of a perfect regular season.

Fulks began her head coaching career at Lewis & Clark College. During her 10 years there, her team (also named the Pioneers) posted seven winning seasons and made three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances while attaining a national ranking of fifth in the country. Coach Fulks has been named conference Coach of the Year seven times in her career and coached several academic and athletic All-Americans.

In addition to coaching, Juli holds a master’s in education degree from Defiance College (2004) and a Ph.D. in leadership studies (2022) from the University of the Cumberlands. Her professional experience also includes speaking engagements and consultations regarding transformational leadership, aspirational culture creation, and leadership communication.

Juli Fulks IMAGE

Listen Here:

Juli Fulks Quotes:

“I think every program and culture has words that they rely on, and we keep ours very simple: ‘Show up, work hard, and adapt.’ We talk always about those in terms of a scale. What does the low-end scale of that look like? You’re an average team, average student. And what does the high-end scale of each of those look like? You’re trying to win and compete for national championships. You’re doing everything at a high level, and that starts with showing up.”

“How do you come to practice? Are you there and actively participating? Are you bringing great energy? Are you the first to pick your teammates up? What does it look like when you are trying to win a national championship at practice versus the low end, which we all know what that looks like. You’re last onto the court, you haven’t stretched, you haven’t gotten yourself ready.”

“We have two phrases that we use a lot. ‘It takes what it takes’ and ‘You get what you earn.’ There’s no way around the process. If you want to win at the highest level, there is an amount of work that has to go into it, out of season workouts, out of practice workouts. At the end of the day, you just cannot walk into those big games and think you have the skill sets if you have not put in the time and you haven’t really earned it.”

“I think in some levels coaching is getting back to transactional with NIL and the portal. You see choices being made on ‘how much can you pay me?’ and ‘what can you do for me?’ which is in some ways a business model that we actually know fails. If you take the top companies in the world, transactional companies fail at a higher rate than transformational.”

“High trust organizations, high trust teams, which come about from transformational leadership, win at a higher level. And so, if you’re really trying to be excellent and compete at the highest level, we know talking to our teams as individuals . . actually creates greater results.”

“Anytime there’s constant turnover, it is hard on an organization. A long time ago, I got to see a great speaker, and one of the things he talked about was a leader’s primary goal should be to retain. Retain people that are great for your program.”

“We try to use a lot of different conversations and other pieces . . one of the things that we know is: praise the behavior you want repeated. If you were doing a study on neuroscience and trust, they would call that unexpected praise. And they have done the studies, if within the first 48 hours when somebody does something well, you point it out in public, their brains will respond at a higher level.”

“We focus much more on ourselves than other people, and that has changed over time. And we believe in what we do and why we do it and how it fits our player personnel. And so, from the very beginning of the year, we are trying to do and implement the things that we believe will be successful in the postseason.”

“Part of it is just constantly trying to evolve and be better and to then also control what we can control. We draw a scale, and on this side of the scale, everything’s going perfect . . how far down this scale can we go and still overcome the obstacles? Pregame meal didn’t go right. The bus was late. We didn’t like the refs . . how far down that scale can we go and still win? . . Can you prove to everybody you’re so mentally tough that you can win here?”

“We want them to feel like they can go in in every game of the postseason and win. We want them to feel confident in the plan and confident that if it’s not going well, they know we’ll adapt and find a way. And I think that’s worked for us.”

“The great thing about defense and rebounding is it travels. And we are a team that is very disciplined on the defensive end and on both offensive and rebounding ends . . defense and rebounding helps them understand this is how we close out games and we can adapt to playing a slow style and close out games because we can defend and rebound.”

“We try to be incredibly positive down the stretch with everybody. They know when they mess up and they know when they have a bad play. But practice included, we are always trying to move them forward . . To be great in the national championship, you have to be willing to take risks. You can’t play it safe in those games.”

“We just rebuild, reemphasize every single day on the very specific skill sets that we know. Matter zone, rebounding. The ball gets shot from here. This is our rebounding assignment, gets shot from here, rebounding assignment, transition. This is what we’re going to look for. This is how we’re going to get it.”

“How are we creating efficacy that they believe that they can do this? One, is physically doing it. If they haven’t physically done the skill and done it well, that’s going to be a low likelihood that in the game that’s going to be the time that it goes right. Two, is learning from other people. While we’re working on the skill, they see how they did it, they learn how other people do it. Three, is giving them the positive encouragement to do it.”

“Our belief comes down to preparedness. How well did we prepare and create a system for our team in the offseason, in the preseason that plays out well? That comes down to doing a lot of research on offense, on defense, how we teach things, that sort of thing.”

“A lot of what you’re doing is trying to convince them of their potential. There’s this gap of reality versus potential where you’re teaching and coaching them based on their end potential and not who they are right now. That’s a really unique gap. Part of it is the experience of knowing where they can get to and coaching them in that manner and then getting them there.”

Juli Fulks Breakdown:

1:00 – Run on Transylvania University Basketball
6:00 – Transformational Leadership
8:00 – Generational Perspective
12:00 – Positive Psychology
18:00 – Evidence Based Coaching
19:30 – Playing a Team Multiple Times
22:00 – Intensity Reduction
24:00 – Positive Framing
26:28 – Endgame Situations
30:00 – Five Minute Moments
32:00 – Recovery
35:00 – Coaching Behaviors
38:00 – Special Situations
45:00 – Risk Tolerance
48:00 – Experiential Things

Juli Fulks Selected Links from the Podcast:

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