By the time you read this post, the NBA Finals will have been decided. No matter which team, the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Golden State Warriors, captures the title, we can all admire the outstanding performance of the star players and the interaction of the supporting team members. Basketball requires a different set of skills from your typical corporate job but we can learn a lot from observing both the individual and the team performance.
Let’s take a closer look at LeBron James. During his career he left the Cleveland Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat. Although this was not a popular decision for his fans, James left to advance his own career and financial earnings. There may come a time when you will need to leave a position or a company in order to progress to the next level. “Searching for and accepting a new career opportunity can be risky. It often requires relocating, proving yourself on a new team, and generally stepping outside of your comfort zone into the unknown. But the reward can be significant career progression and personal satisfaction,” states Jerome Young, a contributor to Forbes magazine. One way to assess whether it is time to move on is to ask yourself if your skills, knowledge, and experience are being valued by your current boss or employer.
And how about Steph Curry, the point guard for the Golden State Warriors? As an athlete, it is easy to see his passion and love for the game when he is on the court. He has a natural competitive streak and amazing scoring and decision making capabilities. His ability to pass the basketball and help his teammates become better is a huge asset. Curry was the first person to be named Most Valuable Player by a unanimous vote in NBA history. ”Steph doesn’t care about getting all of the attention,” explains teammate Draymond Green. “He’s always made sure that people understood: It’s about us, it’s not about me.” Curry’s understanding of his teammates and their contributions is essential not only to the team’s success, but to his understanding of his role on the team and his own success. Outstanding leaders, whether in sports or in organizations, understand that they achieve through their impact on others and fully appreciate the difference they make. They are often quick to acknowledge it’s not about personal ego but rather about how they can empower and influence others.
Set Expectations to Level the Playing Field
The only way that these teams can achieve success is to have one vision, one mission, one goal. At work, sustainable performance comes from collective purpose and intent. Team goals have the power to promote team unity and demonstrate the mindset that the team is more powerful than any one individual. If the outcomes are clear, the team can move forward together. Insure that everyone on your team has a specific role or position to play and that each player knows what is required of them and what they need to contribute to make winning possible.
Achieve Through Your Interactions with Your Teammates
Outcomes such as innovation, productivity, and goal achievement are all obtained by engaging with others and creating conditions of trust and "passing power." Andy Teach, a corporate veteran and author of From Graduation to Corporation: The Practical Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder One Rung at a Time says "a department, or company, that works well together, has the most success together. You enjoy working with your colleagues and look forward to interacting with them." Another benefit of colleagues working well together is enhanced communication. Information flows more freely and helps build consensus and a strong, unified team.
Celebrate the Win
Although for the two NBA teams, winning the title is the ultimate goal many milestones were achieved along the road to the Finals. Basketball statistics include overall points scored, field goals, 3-point shots rebounds and assists. You don’t have to wait for the big win in order to celebrate. The author, Ken Blanchard, interviewed 600 employees and managers when he was writing his book about ways to reward employee achievement. The interviews revealed that some of the best motivators cost little or nothing. They include: sincere and timely praise, learning and growing opportunities, and recognition among peers. Recognizing and rewarding accomplishments along the way keeps us engaged in the process and sends a signal that what we are trying to achieve has meaning.
Success has multiple elements and definitions. However, unless you define success for yourself, it may get defined by others and you will always be measuring yourself against someone else’s yardstick. Tying celebrations to achievement means that if you continue to score, there will be many more reasons to celebrate and many more celebrations in your future.