I listened to a podcast where New Orleans Pelicans Coach Willie Green was being interviewed about his rookie season heading an NBA team.
I appreciated his understated style, but a couple of insights shared about leadership and team development resonated with me.
He was asked about the biggest thing that surprised him about being the head coach. He noted that he didn’t realize he would have to “talk” so much.
Leaders have to “talk.”
You must teach, especially a team that is developing. When there’s a gap between what you are and where you can be or need to be, teaching becomes your primary activity. There is a constant assessment that requires giving feedback and making priorities for improvement. Fundamentals must be clear and repeated. It’s a constant. Every day. Every way. You must be out there.
If you are at all introverted and value your time alone, this requirement for teaching constantly will zap you. A leader developing a team must protect energy. Good rest. Good nutrition. Wise use of downtime will all help you muster the energy.
As the gap closes on getting where you want to be, the focus changes. You move from teaching and directing to fostering leaders. A successful team has multiple leaders. In basketball, the coach doesn’t play the game. The players do.
The players sense the flow and adjust to the circumstances. They set the standards for effort and preparation. They understand the “goal” and inspire each other to perform the jobs necessary to achieve it.
The head assesses and advises. The head assures the standards are maintained. He substitutes teaching with guiding. He guards against complacency.
Whether striving for excellence or maintaining it, everything rests on leadership.