Though it is a sport I never really enjoyed playing and only watch in March, I see goodness is any team sport, whether it be football, basketball, or military service. In honor of the fact that the NBA season kicked off last night, I dusted off the only basketball related book I own, “Leading with the Heart” by Coach K. For those of you that are not familiar, that is Coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke (and a West Point graduate). Using his experiences as a basketball coach, he makes many great points about leadership in general. Most are not new to students of leadership and management, but he does a good job of illustrating the importance of deliberately creating a desirable culture in a locker room, wardroom, or living room. Though I highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates sports as an analogy to the workplace, the points that struck me most given my current job include:
- Recruit great individuals who are willing to be a part of a team…reach out to Enlisted Sailors, fellow Officers, civilians and midshipmen that you would like to make part of our team. As you know, we rely a great deal on OCS, STA-21, and lateral transfers to grow our wardroom. By each of us embracing our role as recruiter, we’ll posture our team for greater success.
- Use plural pronouns vice the first person (none more powerful than we)…We are a community of leaders and need to find ways to lead through teamwork and collaboration. Using the first person is inconsistent with the collaborative philosophy we share and unintentionally compartments our team.
- All assistant coaches should have the vision of being a top leader…we need to encourage our peers and subordinates to seek out growth opportunities. I am proud of the high number of individuals on our team who want to grow, desire to contribute in meaningful ways and are not overly focused merely on maintaining promotability. At the same time, I am disappointed in the relatively few who are contrary to any of the aforementioned attributes. Our coaches (seniors) must continue to focus on the development of our respective assistant coaches (mentees) and help them grow into and earn head coaching positions (i.e. be our reliefs), while helping the others pursue interests outside our lifelines. One of the ways coaches can be measured is by looking at their coaching tree (i.e. the number of assistant coaches who went on to other positions of influence). Though Coach K's Tree is not as full of branches as others, it is definitely impressive. What does your coaching tree look like? Are you deliberately building branches? Are you purposefully creating a relationship with a senior from whom you'd like to grow your branch?
- Failure is part of success…we need to reward risk takers and recognize the failures that come with risk taking as lessons learned. The only way we grow is by extending beyond our comfort zone and helping others to do the same.
Please give some thought to the culture each of us is promoting (intentionally or otherwise) within our workcenter, command, or other place of business. We each need to do our part to make our team one of character, collaboration, and competence.
I am not a basketball fan, but am a fan of great leaders and for that reason alone, Go Duke!