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Tag: teamwork

Atlanta Hawks: A case study on engagement, teamwork, leadership

Ten years ago, picture this scene:

I’m sitting with friends in a mostly-empty Phillips Arena to watch the Atlanta Hawks play the Boston Celtics. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. We weren’t really there to watch the game. We were there to get autographs from players, to hang out in freely-upgraded seats near the court (to try to mask the poor attendance to television viewers), and to troll the opponents as they walked to and from the locker room. Tickets were only $10, so it was a pretty cheap way to waste a Friday night in high school. The Hawks lost by 20. But to look on the bright side, Hawks employees gave us a box of inflatable thunder sticks (inflatable noisemakers) to take home. By the end of the season, the Hawks had won 13 games, and we’d won four boxes of thunder sticks and several items of game worn memorabilia — five shoes, two headbands, and a sock.

The NBA is a glamorous TV product that is played by some of the best athletes on the planet. But in Atlanta, the team was so bad that most of the “crowd” (and I use that term loosely) had to find ways outside the court’s lines to entertain themselves. If you did focus on the game, it was ugly. Not only did the team rack up poor results, but the quality of the play was terrible. Lots of standing around. Lots of one-on-one offense. And lots of complaining by players and coaches, which lead to the same by the fans.

Skip ahead to today, where the Hawks have the best record in the Eastern Conference and are the only team to have punched their ticket for the playoffs with a hefty 18 games still remaining in the regular season. They produced four all-stars — a club record. They’ve had a 19 game winning streak, tied for the sixth longest in NBA history. I never would have believed such success was possible 10 years ago.

The credit has to go to Head Coach Mike Budenholzer and the players who have adopted his “team first” mentality. His leadership is a perfect example to any leader in any walk of life on how to turn a team into something greater than the sum of its parts. The newly found success of the team is rooted in this philosophy. For example, instead of letting players pick their lockers, or ordering them numerically or alphabetically, “Coach Bud” strategically sat each player next to one teammate they could influence and one who could influence them. He instituted team dinners after road games. The examples go on, but maybe nothing signifies the adoption of his methods more than this excerpt reported by SI.com’s Lee Jenkins:

 “Everyone is part of the shot,” [shooting guard Kyle] Korver says. “Everyone matters, and if you feel like you matter, you take ownership.”

That’s engagement, folks. Engagement isn’t about how fun your job is or how often you talk to your boss. It’s about your employees knowing that they matter. Employees who feel valued are more productive and happy people. This is what every boss should aim for, not just the ones on the hardcourt.

If you’re a business owner or you lead a team, take notes from Coach Bud. Think about the little things. Heck, even team meals and seating arrangements apply to many offices. Engage your team and you might discover that you have more all-stars than you thought.

Why Vince Lombardi’s Leadership Advice is Still Relevant

Photo of Vince Lombardi, Green Bay Packers CoachI was in Green Bay, Wisconsin last month with my family and we visited Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers.  My husband is a Wisconsin native and a recovering Packers fan.  My father-in-law attended the legendary Ice Bowl, the 1967 NFL Championship between Green Bay and Dallas.  He credits a flask of brandy in his coat pocket with keeping him alive that day.

Lambeau Field is a beautiful facility with a gift shop as large as an elementary school.  Right out front is a statue of Vince Lombardi, the former coach.  I’m very familiar with Vince, not because I’m a Packers fan, but because I’ve used his quotes on teamwork and leadership countless times over my career.

To win five NFL champions, you need great talent, strong fundamentals, and more than your share of good luck, but there are two elements that are required. You can’t win without teamwork and leadership.

Businesses are looking for the formula that helps their managers become better leaders and employees more engaged.  Leadership is not about one thing, it’s about everything: creating a specific vision, setting measurable goals, listening and asking for input, inspiring your team to work together and succeed, recognizing and celebrating success. If there was a simple, one-time solution, everyone would use it.  Leadership is an ongoing process that requires daily attention.

Although Vince Lombardi passed more than 40 years ago, his perspective on leadership still resonates. Take a look at a few of his quotes and let them inspire you to be a more effective leader.

  • “Individual commitment to a team effort is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work. “

 

  • “Leaders aren’t born; they are made, just like anything else through hard work.”

 

  • “Leadership is based on a spiritual quality—the power to inspire.”

  

  • “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

 

  • “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can attain excellence.”

 

  • “The key to success is heart power. Capture the hearts of people you are leading, connect their hearts to your goals and nothing will be impossible for you.”
How have you been a leader in the past? Did leadership advice from greats like Vince Lombardi help you?  Share your story with me!  Contact Maureen at mclayton@insight-communication.com.