Teams within the team: Swinney using peer accountability to develop leadership

'The new group of seniors draft their teams. It's interesting, because the guys who get drafted last are drafted last for a reason'

Clemson's Dabo Swinney during the first day of spring practice in Clemson.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Dabo Swinney during the first day of spring practice in Clemson.

Dabo Swinney knows the importance of team-driven leadership.

But he's convinced that it doesn't just happen.

Since Swinney has been at Clemson, he's implemented various leadership-building strategies. One of the most effective, he says, is 'accountability' training in which peers answer to peers, and teams-within-the-team earn rewards or face consequences based on the performance of the group.

It starts each winter with a 'draft' by the team's senior players.

"Right after the season, the new group of seniors draft their teams," said Swinney. "It's interesting, because the guys who get drafted last are drafted last for a reason.

"We've done it for the past three years, and it's one of the best things we've done to develop leadership."

Swinney said the strategy is built upon the principle that "everything counts."

"It's not a track meet - it's all about accountability," he explained. "It's everything - academics, strength and conditioning, training room. Everything counts."

The subject came up after practice on Wednesday when Swinney was asked about the progress wide receiver Martavis Bryant has made since being suspended for the Tigers' Chick-fil-Bowl game against LSU because of lax study hall attendance and general inconsistency in work habits.

"Martavis' team didn't have to run today," Swinney said. "That's a long way of giving him a compliment."

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