Developing Leadership

The value of leadership on a team working on any project is invaluable.  Think of any great team.  What are you thinking of?

Generally when I think of a great team I think of sports teams that have been great.  We’ve all seen great leaders that have taken their teams to the next level and reached prominence themselves along the way. How did these athletes become the leaders they were?  Did they grow into that leader, or were those leadership skills developed?

My bet is that they developed those leadership skills.  So if we can develop leadership skills, why aren’t we actively pursuing that ability? What is the best way to go about becoming a leader?

I’m young, I’m 23 years old and the greatest sports team that I can remember was the 2001 NBA champions, Los Angeles Lakers.  They swept the first 3 rounds of the NBA playoffs and then went to 5 games in the NBA championship and they were head and shoulders above their competition, they won the championship the year before that, and the year after that.  Who led them?

The answer to this  isn’t as easy as you might think. Their was several people leading this team. Lets go over some of the big leaders on this team:

1. The first one obviously is their coach was Phil Jackson, he had already won 6 NBA championship rings with the Bulls in the 90’s. He coached one of the greatest leaders of all time in Michael Jordan, as well as the rest of the Chicago Bulls to 6 titles in one decade, which in the sports world is considered a mini-miracle. It is said the toughest thing in sports is to repeat as champions.

2. This team also  had Shaquille O’Neal the 2000 regular season MVP, undeniably their leader on the court. He was the NBA finals MVP the year before, would be this year, and would also win the finals MVP the next season. Between the leadership offered by Phil Jackson, the follow my lead leadership offered by Shaquille O’Neal it was easy to see how this team won as often as they did.

3. The young Kobe Bryant was beginning to come into his own, he was one of the more dynamic players in the NBA at this point in his career, and was growing and maturing into the eventual hall of fame player that he has become today.  He has become one of the great leaders in the sports world today, but you could say that he grew into this role.  He was around other great leaders and saw what they did, bought into the theory, and grew because of it.

Now they say that sometimes in life, the stars are aligned just right and great things happen.  This was a point in time where this happened.  Most coaches, fans, players are excited to win an NBA championship, they’re excited that they are the best team in basketball. Whether they win every series in game 7 and just scrape by each round or not.  The Los Angeles Lakers did something else. They went 16-1 in the playoffs.  When they were aligned against the best competition the NBA could put against them, they lost 1 game out of 17.  That’s unheard of.  To be willed to this, to not get complacent, but to go out each and every night and play your best game and come out on top each night. This to me shows the incredible value of leadership, and how the leaders from within the organization were able to get everyone on the same page and to reach their full potential for the good of the team.

Now this is something that is done in the professional sports realm, but why not in the office place?  Why not in all aspects of your life?

If you have the ability, the time, and you are lucky enough to be around someone who is a great leader, try to learn everything about them.  Try to get on their team,try to learn from them,  try to reach a new level of ability that you never thought possible. See how they lead, learn how you can absorb some of their knowledge on leadership and use it in your own terms.  If you can gain leadership skills, they will prove to be invaluable to you further down the road if you can use them effectively in your team work.

If you are fortunate enough to develop great leadership skills, you can take your office, your coworkers, or whatever it is that you’re doing and you can get them together to reach new goals that no one ever thought attainable.  Much like the 16-1 playoff record of the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers, you think they went into that post season believing they would sweep the first 3 rounds and go to 5 games in the NBA finals?

I doubt they even thought that was possible.

About johnwbender

John Bender Graduate of the University of Nevada Offensive lineman for the Calgary Stampeders
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6 Responses to Developing Leadership

  1. Great correlation between a sports championship and the business world. I really enjoyed reading your article.

    Mindi Dagerman

  2. johnwbender says:

    Thank you, I appreciate you commenting on my blog.

  3. Teresa Bender says:

    This was a very insightful comparison, John. I will be scoping out the leaders at my own place of work with an eye for what exactly they bring to the ‘team’ and how I can learn from their example(s).

  4. johnwbender says:

    Thanks Teresa, glad you liked it!

  5. Darren Mitchell says:

    Spot on assessment John, I like what I have read so far and I think this would be good reading material for high school football players, among others.

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