This past Wednesday, the two-time defending BCS champion Alabama Crimson Tide, led by Head Coach Nick Saban, secured the top-ranked recruiting class in the country for the fifth time in the last six years.  Coach Saban, who is famous for “his process” and the fact that “there is no continuum to success”, certainly has positioned the Crimson Tide for success moving forward.

After reviewing their incredible 2013 recruiting class, I have identified 15 Leadership Skills Necessary To Build A Sustainable Organization.  These skills are applicable to anyone whether you lead a church, business, non-profit, family, or athletic organization. 

These learnings come from the video above, and post-Signing Day articles written by and  You can read those articles in full by clicking here and here

  • The Ability To Achieve Greatness – Great leaders want influence, significance, and impact.  Running back Alvin Kamara told ESPN, “At Alabama, they expect greatness and they achieve greatness, and that is the single reason why I chose to sign with the Tide.”
  • The Ability To Lay A Solid Foundation – Coach Saban’s process starts with laying the foundation with effective recruiting.
  • The Ability To Acquire The RIGHT People – Everyone has their own personal definition of success.  Sustainable organizations have institutionalized that definition.  In the video above, Coach Saban notes that you must “define the critical factors that you are looking for so that everybody is out there looking for the same things relative to what’s important to your system.”
  • The Ability To Build Relationships – We live in a world where excellence is commonplace.  As a result, the marketplace has weeded out average.  Therefore, relationships reign. People now work with who they like.  Saban adds, “Doing a good job developing relationships…that support these guys and help them be successful when they get here.”
  • The Ability To Continually Improve – Coach Saban recently told Sports Illustrated, “History can’t help us win the next game.”  He reminded Tom Rinaldi you must have “a relentless quest to continue to improve.”
  • The Ability To Build Great Depth – Alabama signed four running backs on Signing Day.  Depth gives you options.  Depth protects organizations from individual poor performance or those who may leave your team.
  • The Ability To Focus – Because the Alabama coaching staff knows what type of player they are looking for, they put little stock in the opinions of people outside their organization.  
  • The Ability To Work Hard – “Signing day is the culmination of a lot of hard work,” says Saban.
  • The Ability To Meet Your Organization’s’s Mike Farrell said, “It’s another amazing class for Alabama from top to bottom hitting all their needs.” 
  • The Ability To Maximize Top Talent – Anyone who follows college football has seen dozens of great recruiting classes not develop into great teams.  The reality is that certain programs, and players, simply under-achieve.  The coaching staff of Alabama have a process that maximizes talent.  Saban beautifully captures this concept when he says, “Just because you get the puppy dog with the biggest feet doesn’t mean he’ll grow up to be the best hunting dog.” 
  • The Ability To Feature Top Talent – For many reasons some organizations choose to hold personnel back.  Not at Alabama says’s Woody Wommack, “(Incoming recruit) O.J. Howard is exactly the type of guy that Alabama can feature in their offense.”
  • The Ability To Retain Top Talent – There were no defections from this recruiting class.  
  • The Ability To See The Best In People – Of high-profile recruit Reuben Foster and his propensity to change his mind during recruiting, Saban said “We really think Reuben is a good person, and Reuben has a good heart.  He’s certainly a good football player, but I think that he really felt bad in some way, maybe by the way he handled his recruiting.”  
  • The Ability To Provide Structure – Saban goes on to add. “I think Reuben came here because he wanted the structure. He wants to get it right. He wants to do things the right way, and we want to help him do that. I think he’s got the right heart and the right character to do it.”
  • The Ability To Embrace Change – Technology, specifically the internet, has changed the way programs evaluate, recruit, and acquire talent.   

Achieve Greatness, Build A Solid Foundation, Get the RIGHT People, Build Relationships, Continually Improve, Have Great Depth, Be Focused, Work Hard, Meet Needs, Maximize Top Talent, Feature Top Talent, Retain Top Talent, See The Best In People, Provide Structure, and Embrace Change.  If you possess these 15 leadership skills, you too may lead a sustainable organization.

After reading this list, what is one thing you can do TODAY as a leader to start build a sustainable organization?

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