Grace in the Face of Adversity

The Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder of the National Basketball Association are entangled in a very competitive playoff series. The series is tied at 3 games apiece and the 7th and final game is scheduled for tonight. The winner will go to the NBA Finals for a chance to be NBA Champions.

Oklahoma City was up 3 games to 1 in the series and had two opportunities to clinch, including one on their home court in game 6. In that game, the Thunder were leading nearly the entire game before Golden State’s memorable comeback which forced this deciding game 7.

It would be understandable, after a difficult loss like the Thunder suffered in game 6, and knowing they now have to go back to Golden State where the Warriors have lost just 3 games this year, for Thunder players like Kevin Durant to be frustrated and upset. So I was surprised, as the television camera showed Durant leaving the court, to see this NBA superstar slapping hands with the fans leaning over the rail as he exited.

Despite losing the second game in a row that would have clinched the series and sent his team to the NBA Finals, Durant made the effort to thank the fans (their customers) who support the team. This is the ultimate in customer appreciation. Durant was able to separate his emotion with the loss from that moment when he was leaving his home court for the last time this season. He knew it was important for those fans reaching out to slap his hand and he reached out to them even in his disappointment from the loss.

This is such a small gesture but one that speaks volumes about customer appreciation, respect, sportsmanship, resilience, emotional intelligence, and positivity. As a leader of the Thunder, Kevin Durant modeled the behavior for the rest of his team to see. He showed grace in the face of great adversity.

When your team suffers a defeat, or a setback, are you modeling the appropriate behaviors for your team? If you want your team to be resilient, respectful, and appreciative of your customers, then you need to model these behaviors for your team members. This is especially difficult in times of adversity. So during these times, pause and think about your reaction to the situation and what message it sends to the team. Send a positive one and the team will likely rebound with great success.

Thanks for reading,


P.S. – Please share my blog with others who want to be more effective leaders and follow me on Twitter, @jvearle.


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