I was a little surprised when I heard that Brad Stevens had agreed to become the new head coach of the Boston Celtics. Stevens had passed up other opportunities to leave Butler University where he was a very successful college basketball coach. After turning down some of the best college jobs in the country, I thought Stevens was content to carry on his legacy at Butler. But earlier this month, he surprised many people when he signed on as the Celtics new head coach.
I am also surprised that the Celtics would want Stevens. You see, while Brad Stevens was a great college coach, he had no professional experience. The Celtics are one of the storied programs in the history of the NBA; they could get just about any coach they wanted. So why Stevens?
I started to learn “why Stevens” when I read an article on ESPN.com about Stevens’ first few days on the job. Stevens talked about the importance of building relationships with his players during his first week as the Celtics coach. Stevens said that the number one item on his to-do list was to get a chance to meet and spend time with the players. He indicated that he wanted to “sit, learn, and listen.” And as such, Stevens spent more time that first week taking notes, listening, and asking questions than anything else.
Reading this article made me realize that Brad Stevens knows leadership, and this is why the Celtics hired him. Stevens understands that as leaders, it is absolutely necessary that we build relationships with our team members. We must be willing to listen, to learn, and to show that we care about our team. And as Stevens teaches us, we must build these relationships first. If we build relationships first, it’s easier for us to then communicate expectations and to hold our team members accountable.
Even if you are not new to your leadership position, learn from Brad Stevens and start building relationships this week. It’s never too late. Make it a point this week, to listen, to learn, and to build relationships with your team members.
It will be interesting to see how Brad Stevens does in his new role as coach of the Celtics. It looks to me like he’s off to a great start. If he is successful, we’ll have to see what other leadership lessons we can learn from him.
Thanks for reading,