Gregg Popovich is arguably one of the best NBA coaches of all time. In his tenure with the San Antonio Spurs, he has racked up more than 800 wins, and he's just clenched this fifth NBA Championship. As the leader of your company, you are essentially the "head coach" of your organization, and you can learn several business lessons from one of the winning-est coaches in NBA history.
1. Tell it like it is
Aside from his winning record, Coach Popovich, or Coach Pop, might be most famous for his interviews. When asked seemingly obvious, almost silly questions by the media, Coach Pop usually gives very direct, matter-of-fact answers. For example, when ESPN's Mark Jones asked him his thoughts on the third quarter during a January 2014 game when the Spurs were down 68-61 to the Chicago Bulls, Coach Pop responded with an unemotional, "We're behind."
While it's facetious, and most people get a chuckle from his frank responses, you can learn something from Pop's straightforward form of communication. When it comes to your goals, your marketing materials, your sales pitches, etc., simply tell it like it is. You don't have to sugar coat anything when you know that your service standards are solid and your product or service is something that the market wants or needs. When you strive for authenticity by "talking the talk" and "walking the walk," your customers will respect and trust you, and those are the kind of feelings that elicit loyalty.
2. Recruit a staff of team players
The San Antonio Spurs are famous for many things (how many times have you heard about how "old" they are?), but the thing that stands out—far from all the rest—is the fact that they are a team of strong players. Yes, they have their superstars; no one can deny the tenacity and raw talent of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan, but the Spurs' "Big 3" have a cast of supporting players, and they all play together as one cohesive unit. Further, Tim, Tony, and Manu don't play selfish basketball—they lead their younger teammates, teaching them the culture of the Spurs organization, and propelling their level of play.
From their salary and benefits, to the time it takes to train new hires, you invest a lot in your staff. Your employees are the backbone of your company. Whether they are selling your product, or managing the back-end, day-to-day operations, your success (or failure) ultimately lands in the hands of your staff. Wouldn't you rather have a staff full of team players, willing to go the extra mile for their colleagues and your company, as opposed to one or two "superstars" that put their ego before everything else? When you have a staff that truely operates as a cohesive team, you can be confident that when one of your strong "players" is sick, on vacation, or just having an off-day, your supporting cast will step up to the plate and get the job done.
3. Don't be afraid to push your team
If you've ever watched a Spurs game, you've probably seen Coach Pop get in the face of his players. From the greenest rookie, to veterans like Tim Duncan with 18+ years of tenure with the Spurs organization, Coach Pop is not afraid to push their buttons to get their head in the game. He expects the very best from his team; all of them—not just the "superstars." It doesn't matter if the Spurs are up by 15 points, if Tony Parker or Danny Green blows a defensive assignment, Coach Pop has no problem finding room for them on the bench.
No matter how young or seasoned a salesperson is to your organization, don't be afraid to push them. They are never too experienced to learn something new, and they are never too much of a novice to step outside of their comfort zone and go out and get that big client you've been prospecting.
While some of his methods may be unconventional, there's no denying that Coach Popovich knows how to win. And as the old saying goes, "if you want to be the best, you have to learn from the best."
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