History was made in the NBA and I can only hope this unique occurrence could have a carryover effect for years to come.
Over the years I’ve spent studying team dynamics, I’ve learned that the single greatest predictors of sustained excellence is continuity at the top. If you are a fan of the San Antonio Spurs, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, or UConn Women’s basketball team you know that the consistent leadership at the helm of your favorite team has much to do with why you’re annually relevant.
While quickly flipping through several games last night (and I feel so sorry for the Celtics and Gordon Hayward whose injury will impact that team all year), I reflected on an unbelievable history-making statistic. And it is that this year marks the first time ever that every head coach that started last season in the NBA will be sitting on the same bench again this year. Further, last year was the first time since the 1963-64 season in which there were no in-season changes.
The “sports” news over the last few days has had little to do, actually, with games. Opinions, discord, protest…and now a national scandal involving college basketball coaches and the FBI.
The acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York issued indictments this week to a collection of men that represent the underbelly of the college game (college basketball coaches, Adidas shoe executives, and agents). It was also made clear that this investigation is not closed. For three years they’ve been looking at cash that flows from corporate entities like shoe companies to “amateur basketball players” through a series of adults whose job should truly have been to look out for the best interest of these young players.
In business, as in sports, there is nothing more frustrating than a poorly executed meeting. Whether you are stuck in an office conference room listening to a droning, directionless boss or huddled up on the field with a queasy, indecisive quarterback, your confidence, productivity and competitive edge are bound to plummet.
That’s why every great leader—be they coach, captain, division head or CEO—knows that in order to spur high performance, meetings (and huddles) must be focused, disciplined and inspirational.
This principle of Great Teams was most poignantly reinforced for me four years ago at Madison Square Garden, as I watched Villanova face off against Louisville in the 2013 Big East Tournament quarterfinals. Every time Villanova called a time out the players moved their chairs out towards the middle of the floor so that—as the starters sat down—the rest of the team could encircle them, arm-in-arm, forming a protective cocoon. Everyone was present. Everyone was dialed in.