Talking Culture with Mark Booras, Tulane Men’s Tennis Head Coach

Mark Booras File:

  • Head Coach, Tulane Men’s Tennis
  • Top 20 ITA player at West Virginia
  • Ranked #267 ATP Doubles Tour
  • 3 siblings played elite college tennis
  • Heart transplant survivor

Vidal: What is culture?

Booras: Team culture is the environment you want the guys to be in; the environment you want at practice, during matches, team meals, and the way people talk to each other and relationships.

Culture affects lots of different things about outcome: how you play and push one another, the emotional side of the game and how much you invest

Vidal: Did you have a mentor?

Booras: Jeff Brown at LSU, a fantastic coach, even better guy. In Jeff, I saw the head of a program that was reachable. I watched how Jeff carried himself and the relationships he built with the players.

“Life is about relationships.”

Mark Booras, Head Coach at Tulane Men’s Tennis

Dick Gould at Stanford was another great example; the guy was all about relationships…I was literally nobody, but he would give me the time of day and make me feel like a million dollars.

Vidal: What steps would you recommend to shape an amazing culture?

Booras: Great question.

1 – Set the vision.

The guys on team need to see the leader doing right. They need to see me not only living it; they need to see me believing it…that this guy means business. If you’re failing at the top, not following your own rules, the guys are going to see that. The idea of leadership and consistency is huge...preach discipline and show these guys what discipline means.

2 – Embody selflessness.

You want a culture where people are investing in each other. Yes, as a player, you want to be the best and play number one on the team, but you also want to building with your teammates an environment of love and care for one another and family.

3 – Be a relational leader.

From my first recruiting call, I say, “We want you to be part of the Tulane family. This is the best thing that you’re going to have for the rest of your life.” The relational part of culture is the overarching principle that you want to really focus on as a leader.

Vidal: What advice do you have for next-generation leaders?

Booras: With information at their fingertips, one of the things that is slightly challenged is the communication opportunity. How are you communicating?

When we go to team dinners, I make the guys put away their phones. We’ve got to learn to talk to one another. As a coach (and leader), you have to know how to reach each person because everybody has a different personality.

Written by

7-time NCAA championship coach and entrepreneur René Vidal helps leaders and organizations turn adversity into competitive advantage.