Don Shula led the Miami Dolphins to two Super Bowl victories and the only perfect season in the history of the National Football League. He led his teams to six Super Bowls. He had only two losing seasons in his 33-year career as a head coach in the NFL (1963-1995) Shula holds the NFL record for most career wins as a head coach with 347.
Shula's results were consistent because he gave his players constant feedback focused on their performance and unaltered by his mood. In his book with Ken Blanchard: The Little Book of Coaching, Shula discusses his definition of consistency:
"Most people have the wrong idea about consistency. They think it means behaving the same way all the time. If you praise people and are nice to them when they're performing well and also when they are behaving poorly, that's inconsistent. Your players need to be able to count on your consistency. What we're talking about here is a specific kind of consistency—a consistency in responding to people's performance.
In the typical organization, the most frequent response people get to their performance is no response. A no-response consequence occurs when nothing is said or done following the action. Good actions that receive no recognition at all are apt to be discarded eventually; bad actions will continue unchanged. Good coaching means being present, on the spot, constantly giving appropriate feedback on your players' performance.
My philosophy is that there are no minor mistakes. Mistakes cannot be tolerated, they should be redirected. When redirection occurs, performance is stopped, and people's efforts are rechanneled to do correctly what they were doing incorrectly. If people are redirected to do something correctly, they are apt to continue doing it correctly. Redirection can be a powerful way to get people to refocus their behavior. Redirecting is the way to correct a mistake when an individual or team has not yet learned to do what you want you want them to do. If people make a mistake while they are learning and you yell at them or punish them, you'll only increase their anxiety and motivate them to avoid the punisher—you."
Recognizing good performance is an important part of my coaching. I like to recognize our players in front of their peers.My coaches and I will stop and give a player a pat on the back or recognize a great team effort on the spot, but we'll usually repeat the feedback at a team meeting to give our players full recognition. I believe in spreading praising's out so that every contributor receives attention. Good coaching doesn't mean telling everyone they're doing great. You want to support people when they're first learning, then gradually get more choosy about when you give them praise. I try to fit my feedback to a player's personality. Consistency is key, but within this philosophy, you have to use different approaches."