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Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

5 Lessons for Business Leaders from World Champion Coach Steve Kerr of the NBA's Golden State Warriors

Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors for wrapping up this year's National Basketball Association world championship with last night's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. I never hide how I'm a huge fan of the San Antonio Spurs, especially their brilliant Coach Gregg Popovich; however, it's not possible to accomplish all the great feats that the Warriors have over the past 3 years without powerful leadership: at least 67 victories each year and championship rings in 2 out of the last 3 years. I have seen that outstanding leadership in head coach Steve Kerr, and I believe the following 5 leadership lessons can benefit productivity for all time-crunched professionals.

1. Inspire others with your competitive drive and enthusiasm. Knowing exactly when to show the right emotions for the circumstances, Coach Kerr energizes his assistant coaches, players and support staff with his passion for continual improvement. He works continually to expertly reign in Draymond Green's emotional outbursts while encouraging his team to play with a drive for excellence. He even famously smashed a clipboard last year as the Warriors gave up a third quarter lead, explaining that he'd rather take his frustrations "out on the board rather than a player". There's a time for everything, and each leader must be aware of the impact one's actions have on one's team members.

2. See the potential in your team members and encourage it to grow. Each year, Coach Kerr has taken a growing core of star players, invested in bettering their excellence and plotted out how to best highlight each player's strengths in a way that has them working together like a well-oiled machine. He regularly exhibits his faith in his players' abilities and invests a great deal of effort in helping them become even better. This year, in addition to the strengths of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and crew, Coach Kerr sought to incorporate the advanced skills of Kevin Durant, resulting in a powerhouse team that far exceeds its competitors. Commitment to team members makes everyone better, especially the results for the team in its totality.

3. Acknowledge that success comes from your team members' performance. In both instances that the Warriors won championships, Coach Kerr hid amongst those on stage, almost refusing the microphone as he encouraged everyone who was on the court making the shots and defending the opponents to speak. He understood that his role is to encourage their star potential, but he can only draw up the plays while they are the ones actually dribbling the ball. Everyone within the Warriors organization echoes Coach Kerr's humility, humbleness and belief in teamwork, understanding that "Together, everyone achieves more" and putting the greater good ahead of any individual's success.

4. Empower a "next man up" mentality. Whether it was Draymond Green's absence in last year's NBA Finals due to too many technical fouls, players having to step away throughout the season due to injuries or Coach Kerr's own health concerns forcing him to step away temporarily, all members of the Warriors' organization are aware of the communicated expectation that they must step up to fill any void as it appears for the betterment of the team. Coach Kerr has shown the ultimate trust in his assistant coaches, players and support staff, which empowers them to better perform their necessary duties. When your team knows you trust them, they are empowered to step up and fuel desired results.

5. Constantly take the temperature of everything related to your team. Coach Kerr has developed personal connections with each of his assistant coaches, players and support staff members such that he knows exactly what's up with his organization, can proactively pre-empt hurdles and works strategically to realign issues before big problems arise. When you connect with your people, exhibiting empathy for team members' needs, they'll open up to you and better trust your subsequent decisions.

It is with these leadership lessons that Coach Kerr continues to achieve record-breaking successes, setting an example that inspires those around him to achieve greatness alongside him.

Which of these leadership lessons do you find most valuable? Are there other such leadership skills you've seen exhibited by Coach Steve Kerr?

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