Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr whose team will be playing in what could be the last game of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night, led his team this season to the ever best record in professional basketball.
It’s the NBA playoffs and the best team in the league—reflected by their performance this season—is the Golden State Warriors. Just last night, the Warriors came back from a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 123-119 in overtime, which further proves their resiliency.
While the Warriors had plenty of talent a year ago, it was a leadership change that ultimately took them from good to great. During his time as a player, Steve Kerr, now head coach of the Warriors, had the chance to experience outstanding leadership while playing for the Arizona Wildcats as well as with the NBA championship-winning Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs. Kerr shared with me how leadership changes can take even the most unexpected teams from good to great.
“The beauty of basketball is that it takes time for guys to grow together,” said Kerr. “You can’t just throw pieces together like an all-star team and expect it to work. You need continuity and leadership to become great.”
In college, Kerr learned this while playing under the direction of Coach Lute Olsen at Arizona. In his first season, Olsen came into a struggling program that had a record of 4-24 the previous year; however, he understood the fan-base of Arizona and the long-term needs of the team. He recruited high-performing athletes to fill voids, and then reinforced a strong work ethic and principles to his players.
By the end of Olsen’s second season, his once-struggling team made the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years.
“Great cultures are always built in places people wouldn’t expect,” said Kerr. “But as a coach, you have to know what your strengths are and how you play in order for that to happen.”
Any high-performing team in the world of business can appreciate Olsen’s approach of detailed organization and strategic recruiting. By considering long-term culture change instead of merely assembling a quick fix, an organization can bounce back from a lackluster quarter much stronger.
That’s a remarkable feat for anyone, but especially for someone who has never coached before this season — even as an assistant. While he has spent a lifetime in basketball, Kerr didn’t take the helm until 2014.
Sports writer after sports writer has tried to explain Kerr’s success as a first-time coach, as the Warriors barrelled their way toward the NBA Finals. He had enormous talent to work with, particularly in the form of point guard Steph Curry who was the League’s MVP.
His predecessor is credited with building some of the important elements of this year’s talented team. And he hired veteran assistants considered some of the best minds in basketball.
But for all those advantages, Kerr’s biggest asset ultimately may be his own leadership skill. In analysis after analysis, a picture emerges of a coach who is humble, detailed and curious about the world. He gives his players opportunities, asks for their input and tries to keep the joy of the game. Most of all, his character, which has been at least partly formed by personal tragedy, remains calm under pressure yet still fiercely competitive.
Several anecdotes help illustrate the way he leads. Kerr not only likes to deflect attention to his assistant coaches and players, he’s willing to play up their skills at the expense of his own.
He and shooting Prodigy Steph Curry frequently engage in their own public game of free throws after practice, and Kerr has won only once, recounted Sports Illustrated Chris Ballard
“On the surface, the competition seems a fun diversion,” Ballard wrote. “But like most things with Kerr, it’s more than that. What is coaching if not a power balancing act? Here is Kerr, one of the best shooters in NBA history and a famously (if quietly) competitive man, willing to publicly lose, repeatedly, to his star player. That takes a certain innate confidence that carries over to other areas.”
Courtesy : By Jena McGregor June 16, Washington post )