We live in a culture that values superstars. While a superstar may sell jerseys, it is teamwork that wins championships. This was proven once again tonight when the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Miami Heat in five games. Many would argue that Lebron James is the best basketball player in the game today, yet there’s no arguing the fact that the Spurs are the best team.
Yes, the Heat are a good team. They’ve won two back-to-back championships…and if they stay together they will have a shot at winning more. And yes, the Spurs have all-stars and future hall of famers on their team. But it was the teamwork of the Spurs that demolished the Heat in this series.
So, what can we learn about leadership from the San Antonio Spurs?
1. Great teams are built, not bought
It’s been said that Miami is the best team money can buy. But simply paying superstars doesn’t mean that they will play as a team. On the other hand, Coach Popovich has spent the last 18 years building a team through recruiting good players and teaching them to play unselfishly.
If you want your organization to have a great team, you have to build it. You can’t rely on a hire or two to put you over the top. You have to recruit, invest in, and develop your team.
2. Great teams put the good of the team ahead of themselves
As John Maxwell said in The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, “Winning teams have players who put the good of the team ahead of themselves. They want to play in their area of strength, but they’re willing to do what it takes to take care of the team. They are willing to sacrifice their role for the greater goal.”
Great teams require that each individual team member remain open and teachable. Are the people on your team unselfish? Are they teachable? As the leader, are you modeling humility and teachability?
3. Great teams have depth
The Spurs are a team with depth. Their bench led the NBA in scoring this season and it was apparent during the finals this year. The strength of the Spurs bench proved invaluable in game 5. They outscored the Heat’s bench 22-2 in the first half alone.
Winning teams require competence at every level of the organization. Organizations who build successful teams never forget that every role is contributing to the bigger picture. Do you have enough depth on your team to win consistently?
For there to be teamwork, several things must happen. First, teams must be built and developed for the long haul through consistent recruiting and training. Second, personal sacrifice must be encouraged. Finally, teams need a leadership pipeline to develop talent at every level of the organization.