Two weeks ago the third best basketball team in the world fired their head coach. Coach Blatt didn’t have a moral failure. His record was great. And last year he even took his team to the finals. So why fire him?
When General Manager David Griffin spoke to the press, he revealed three key principles about leadership that can help those of us who lead at home and at work to create championship cultures in our areas of influence.
Establish A Clear Purpose
Griffin began with this, “When you have the clarity of purpose we have as a franchise, decisions like these tend to make themselves. Every decision is made as an answer to the following question, ‘Does it put us in the best position to deliver championships to Northeast Ohio? And I go to bed every night thinking about that question.'”
Griffin is crystal clear about his mission – championships to Northeast Ohio. He and everyone else in their organization understand where they’re trying to head. It’s the one question they ask. The one sentence that motivates them.
My guess is that you’re not that interested in bringing home trophies to Northeast Ohio, but what’s your purpose? What’s your win? Have you distilled it down to a clear and memorable sentence? A clear purpose can be catalytic for a family, a business, a ministry, or a church. And it begins by asking the question ‘What are we trying to achieve?’ and then boiling it down to one clear sentence. To lead well you begin by having a well-crafted sentence that defines your purpose.
Build A Collective Spirit
Griffin went on to say, “We have a lack of fit with out personnel and our vision of how to use that personnel… What I see is that we need to build a collective spirit, a strength of spirit, and a collective will. Elite teams in this league always have that. And you see it everywhere. To be truly elite we have to buy in to a set of values and principles we believe in.”
As leaders, it’s our job to unite our teams. We must live the values that we want them to have. We must choose the principles that will drive their character and behavior. How do champions think? How do they behave? What do they do and not do? Modeling and answering what this looks like will galvanize our team around our purpose. Unity comes from clarity and clarity is our job.
Focus On Habits (not destinations)
Griffin closed his address by saying, “We don’t have to concern ourselves with expectations of a destination. We need to work towards tomorrow and honor one another with total commitment every single day. And if we can do that, if can learn to express collective greatness and the joy that brings, then we can dream about something more. Right now we’re a really long way from that.”
Once you’re clear on your purpose and values, it’s time to define your championship habits. What are the things that if you and your team did them over and over again would lead to greater success? What are the small steps that would produce to lasting change? Elite teams have elite routines. In life and at work it’s wise to identify your best practices, those key behaviors that will take you where you want to go and then find a way to hold yourself and your team accountable to them.
Apparently Coach Blatt was doing a lot of things right, but he wasn’t creating a championship culture, one with a clear purpose, a unified team, and championship habits.