Kobe Bryant, NBA and Lakers legend, along wth his daughter Gianna and 7 others passed away last week. This was shocking. And I took it hard because I’ve been watching and following Kobe since before he got to the league; he became the player I followed the most after Michael Jordan retired. So I grew up with Kobe, and he was a big inspiration for me.
You might not know that I’m a big basketball fan. Along with the UFC, it’s the sport I follow the most. So, every once in a while I’ll find interesting lessons that apply to my “better your best” mindset. For example, during this year’s playoffs Isaiah Thomas, point guard of the Boston Celtics, reached out to NBA legend Kobe Bryant for some help on studying film. Kobe Bryant, as we’ve seen before, was obsessive about offense and defense during his playing days and is one of the reasons why he’s an all-time great. …
Survival in the 21st century demands a ceaseless obsession with your customers and with the possibilities that new technologies can offer them. When hiring or collaborating, we want to work with the most talented people. But have you ever thought about the most obsessive? Unlike naturally talented people, the most obsessive will challenge you and make you better. …
When no one knows what’s going to happen we’ll naturally look at other people for clues on how to behave. This is the basis of imitation, and it’s a survival tactic. Simply said, in an environment where the world is changing, the best strategy is lots of imitation. The problem with this is we’re rarely aware of how ‘much imitation’ is necessary and outright imitation is stupid plain and simple. It’s a balancing act to decide what to copy and what not.
Practice ‘Smart Stealing’
The best strategy is to ‘steal’ from different sources, ideally ‘the best’ sources outside your industry.
Examples abound of companies who have ‘stolen’ from others. Apple stole Xerox’s musical interface and mouse ideas. Facebook and MySpace stole Friendster’s social network idea. Microsoft stole Netscape’s browser idea. Kobe Bryant has stolen moves from other basketball greats. It’s even happening in the Venture Capital Industry where one popular VC firm models itself after a Hollywood talent agency.…
Are you making others better?
The NBA season is over and the Los Angeles Lakers are the Champions.
The big talk is all about how Kobe Bryant finally got a ring without Shaquille O’Neal. But the story that is without a doubt the most important for leaders is Phil Jackson surpassing Red Auerbach as the coach with the most championships won and undeniably being recognized as the best coach ever by his peers.
I’ve learned much about leadership from watching the Chicago Bulls teams of the 90’s with Michael Jordan.
Heck I started getting interested in this whole leadership thing when Michael Jordan came back from baseball and helped the Bulls to the best regular season ever and championship, so I’ve been curiously watching how Phil Jackson has continued to be a great coach by consistently by bringing out the best in his players.
After game 5 of the Finals, Phil Jackson was asked what he thought of Kobe Bryant’s growth as a leader. He recounted an interesting story of back when Kobe was 22 years old the Lakers lost a game, afterwards Phil sat down with Kobe to talk to him about his impact on the game and how him taking over/dominating the ball put the Lakers in a difficult position. After pointing out to Kobe how he could improve and could become co-captain, Kobe said he was ready to be captain but Phil said “Yeah, but others are not ready to follow you”.
You might have great skill and talent but if others are not willing to follow you’re not making a difference.
Early in his career Michael Jordan was criticized for being a great player but not making his teammates better, it was only when he started trusting his teammates that the Bulls started winning championships. He started noticing a difference in his career when his teammates where confident in themselves.
The word empower is commonly associated with making others better. Empowering others can be summed up this way:
Exemplary leaders make other people feel strong. They enable others to take ownership of and the responsibility for their group’s success by enhancing their competence and their confidence in their abilities, by listening to their ideas and acting upon them, by involving them in important decisions, and by acknowledging and giving credit for their contributions.
When Lakers players were asked about what they thought set Phil Jackson apart from other coaches the same idea always came up: he brings out the best in his players and empowers them to make the right decisions.
Phil Jackson brought out the best in Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant (big egos) by encouraging them to embrace team ball and in return they became leaders themselves.
So why is Phil Jackson the best coach ever then?
According to Kobe Bryant:
“It’s his ability to bring people together,” Bryant said when asked what makes Jackson such a great coach. “That’s the biggest thing that he does so well — he continues to coach the group, continues to coach unity and chemistry and togetherness. Because when you’re together, you can withstand adversity. If you’re not, you can easily break apart and become a team of individuals. That’s his biggest characteristic and what he does so well.”
Conclusion: focus on bringing out the best in others and you shall become a leader of leaders.