Regardless of whether you’re a basketball fan or not, you have to admire what Phil Jackson accomplished yesterday, as well as over the past 18 seasons he’s served as a head coach (similar to your role as the senior executive of a SMB). With yesterday’s NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers, Phil Jackson probably cemented his place in NBA history as the best coach of all-time.
In 18 seasons, he’s won 10 NBA championships with two different teams (Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers). He’s won 1, 250 games with a winning percentage of .705 in the regular season and .670 in the post-season. And he’s done that with an interesting group of very different and diverse individuals/characters (Dennis Rodman immediately comes to mind :-). So what does Phil Jackson have to do with your business? Answer, a lot.
When you became the leader of your business, you moved from being the primary producer to being the coach of your team. When that occurred (and it did occur once you hired employee number one), everything changed. Like Phil, you aren’t judged on what you do but what your players do. If that’s true, and it is, then watching and learning from great coaches ought to be a regular part of your own personal development.
In the case of Jackson, what’s amazing about him is that he’s not only been able to attract great talent, but he’s been able to change how he leads and the strategies he chooses, based on the players he’s had to work with. From Michael Jordan and Scotty Pippen to Shaq and Kobe, Jackson has consistently brought out the best in the players he’s had.
And if you were to summarize his coaching philosophy in a few statements it might look something like this.
- Expect the best from your players
- Treat them like talent
- Trust them to make the right decisions
- Let them play through difficult patches (i.e. don’t yank them out quickly)
- Teach them new ideas and concepts (and reinforce them over and over again)
- Treat different players differently (because they are)
- Focus on team success over personal success (i.e. players can be stars but only teams win championships)
- Push your players, but more importantly, teach them to push themselves harder
- Plays to their strengths (i.e. change your strategies to fit your players, not your players to fit your strategies).
Seeing that those ideas have lead to 10 championship seasons, they might be a list worth referring to regularly.
So, looking at that list, how are you doing as a coach? Remember, at the end of the day, your success as a coach isn’t dependent upon what you do, but what your players do. In light of that, maybe the better question is, “How’s your team doing?” If they’re not acting like a championship team, then you know where to start! Great teams are always built by great coaches!
To your accelerated success!