It has been quite a year for Steve Kerr, the rookie head coach for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association. Earlier this week, Kerr’s Warriors defeated LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to win Golden State’s first NBA title in 40 years. This victory capped an impressive season in which the Warriors won more games than any other season in their team’s history, and Kerr set the record for most wins by a first-year coach in the history of the NBA.
So how does a guy, coaching for the first time in his life, have such tremendous success?
Certainly, Kerr’s career as a player, which included 5 NBA Championships, helps. (Kerr still holds the record for highest three-point shooting percentage in NBA history.) He played for two outstanding coaches, Phil Jackson of the Chicago Bulls and Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs, and he appears to have learned the craft well from these legendary coaches. It is also apparent from watching him on the sidelines that Kerr connects with his players. He seems positive and upbeat, always encouraging, frequently smiling, and creating a good environment for the players to be relaxed and supportive of each other.
During the Championship series we also learned something else about Kerr. He has created an environment where all members of his team feel welcome to contribute. And when they do, Kerr listens. There was a point in the series, after the Warriors lost a game, that Kerr made a significant lineup change. He started a player who hadn’t been starting, and this move seemed to turn the series around and help the Warriors go on to victory. Later, in an interview, Kerr credited the team’s video coordinator with the idea for starting this other player.
By acknowledging this publicly, Kerr showed that he is an unselfish, secure leader who doesn’t need to gain the credit for the team’s success. He also showed that he has created an environment where people feel safe about speaking up and suggesting new ideas. And lastly, Kerr showed that he listens to everyone in the organization, not just the people in his inner circle.
Think about the organization you are leading. Do people on your team feel comfortable and safe enough to speak up when they have an idea? Do you listen to them and give their ideas a chance or do you dismiss them and move on? Are you secure enough to give them the credit when the team is successful?
These are the leadership qualities that lead to historical, championship teams. Give them a try and see if you get championship results!
Thanks for reading,
P.S. – Check out my website at http://www.jvearle.com and keep me in mind if you hear of any opportunities to share my thoughts on leadership.