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3 Leadership Lessons from Steve Kerr

June 18, 2015

Steve Kerr, first year coach of the Golden State Warriors, led the Golden State Warriors to the NBA Championship with a 4-2 championship series victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday (June 16). In reflecting on his coaching this season, one sees a number of valuable leadership lessons.

Surround Yourself with High Quality People

Jun 16, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr talks to the media after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in game six of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Jun 16, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Although Kerr learned a lot from coaches he played for (Lute Olson at Arizona, Phil Jackson with the Chicago Bulls, Mike D’Antoni in Phoenix, Gregg Popovich in San Antonio), and never spoke badly of the Warriors’ previous coach Mark Jackson who put the team on a positive trajectory, he continued to surround himself with high quality people when he became the “leader.”

On the bench, he employed what some describe as “superstar assistant coaches” in offensive wizard Alvin Gentry and defensive mastermind Ron Adams… and he empowered them to share ideas. On the court, Kerr gave star shooting guard Stephen Curry permission to shoot anytime… all the way to an NBA MVP. Kerr realized Curry had amazing talent and to push him into too much structure would take away from what made his abilities successful.

Make Tough Decisions and Communicate Clearly

Midway through the season, Andre Iguodala and David Lee were no longer in the starting lineup. Even more importantly, Kerr had sat down with both players, explaining the rationale for pulling them from the starting lineup. He kept his promise of continuing to give each player significant playing time. With these two players sacrificing for the team’s good, the remaining players were satisfied and became more comfortable in their roles on the team. The result was a depth and versatility on the team that many analyze as significant in the Warriors championship season. The fact that Iguodala, arguably Golden State’s second best roster player entering the season, was named the Playoffs MVP for both his defensive work against Lebron James and his outstanding offensive contributions was a fitting reward for his sacrifice.

Focus on one goal

Because each player on the team bought into Kerr’s second leadership lesson on sacrifice so thoroughly, it became “easy” to keep the individuals focused on one team goal: the NBA Championship. Not just a number of wins or winning first place in the Western Conference, but claiming the NBA championship in June. In the process, different players rose on different occasions to turn a game or a series in the Warrior’s favor and as a team they accomplished their goal.

Thanks to this helpful summary article by Dan Devine on Yahoo! Sports


From → Leadership

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