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10 Great Leadership Lessons From Tim Duncan’s Career

tim2Well the NBA Finals wrapped up with the team with the best record in the NBA hoisting the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. Yes, the San Antonio Spurs are the 2014 NBA champions after missing the opportunity to win their 5th title last year, they seized the moment this year. Even though the #Spurs had the best record and best coach in the NBA, this championship is unlikely because everyone including them Heat had pretty much crowned themselves as the 2014 NBA Champions, a 3-Peat and LeBron on NBA’s Mt. Rushmore before the season even started. Not so fast my friend, the Spurs are the new Sheriff in town. Well they are the old Sheriff thats back in town.

The Spurs were led by a cast of awesome players that know how to play team basketball. They are truly a team where night in and night out a different team member shows up. As a matter of fact most people had never heard of the man of the Spurs players including finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, especially before the last couple of games. To this day only a few people can even spell his name correctly. Uhh Kuh-why?

Not only did the Spurs have a great team but they were smarter, more disciplined and better coached than any other team in the NBA. The Spurs were lead by the veteran of all veterans, Tim Duncan. Duncan will go down as one of the greatest NBA Superstars ever. Duncan now has the most playoff games and double-doubles of any player in NBA history. Duncan is a SuperStar who shined bright like a diamond while staying outside of the spotlight. Speaking of diamonds and spotlights King James tried to shine but his teammates didn’t help him sparkle. As a result, can we please not talk about the #Heat #LeBron #Bulls and #Jordan in the same sentence for a long time. Like ever!

We can talk about Tim Duncan, not only can we talk about him, there is a lot to learn about life and leadership from him and his career.

10 Great Leadership Lessons From Tim Duncan’s Career.

  • 1. Substance Over Style – “The Big Fundamental” Looking good is great, performing great is better. Duncan doesn’t win the style contest, but he is a straight up winner.
  • 2. Greatness Is Appreciated More When It’s Gone – Tim Duncan’s Game, Career and Place in history won’t be appreciated until he’s retired and gone.
  • 3. Great Leaders Know When To Defer – Duncan has admittedly turned the team over to Tony Parker, which has extended his career and allowed him to continue his greatness. It looks like he may be turning it over to Mr. About His Business Kawhi Leonard real soon.
  • 4. You Can’t Care What People Think – Duncan doesn’t get the commercials, the shoes, the endorsements… He just gets the trophies. Duncan could care less what people think about his personality or lack there of, all he does is win.
  • 5. Classy over Sassy – Tim Duncan is one of the classiest players in the NBA. It’s hard not to like classy… when in doubt, keep it classy.
  • 6. Quietly Be The Best At What You Do – Tim Duncan will quietly go down as one of the best power forwards to ever play the game. Period, the end.
  • 7. Nice Guys Don’t Finish Last – Nice guys finish wherever they want to finish, Duncan is nice and he doesn’t finish last. 🙂
  • 8. Get Better With Age – Just like a fine wine, they say some things get better with age, great leaders get better, lead better, play better and make better decisions with age. Duncan seems to get better the older that he gets.
  • 9. Know How To Lead Up – Duncan plays for a tough coach and he’s one of the few players that knows how to lead up, talk to Popovich, how to handle him in the media and how to lead up. There is an art to leading up and Duncan figured it out.
  • 10. Make Those Around You Better – Duncan makes his teammates, his coach, his city, his community and the NBA better.

 

What To Do When Your Organization Isn’t Getting The Desired Results

org challengeOften times when an organization faces challenges, shortfalls and doesn’t live up to expectations… fingers start pointing everywhere. The finger pointing is a natural sign and symbol of trying to place the blame and figure things out. The finger pointing is often followed by pink slips, excuses and questions.

There is a timeless organizational principle that I like to live by and help the organizations that I coach to always take a hard look at. The principle is simply this:

“If your organization isn’t getting the desired results, look no farther than the leader.” 

You can’t point as many fingers as you want, make more excuses than failure itself; however solutions can truly only be found by looking at the leader. Yes the team has to perform, but the leader is ultimately responsible for the strategy, hiring, firing and coaching of those team members.

If your organization is having challenges, look no farther than the leader for solutions.

What Leaders and Organizations Can Learn From The Fall Of Blackberry and The Rise Of Apple

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I have a friend who is somewhat of a BlackBerry fan. In his BlackBerry fandom he forwarded me the above tweet yesterday from the WallStreet Journal. Let me paraphrase what it says, “5 years ago BlackBerry accounted for half of the U.S. smartphones and today they account for none.”

I remember owning many different models of the BlackBerry with the old school track mouse roller ball thing. BlackBerry held onto the roller ball and the expensive data plans because they had an exclusive business crowd that wasn’t going to leave them no matter what. Well the iPhone had something to say about that and eventually the business folks left and BlackBerry is bankrupt, extinct and has some some really smart people in a room trying to come up with a BlackBerry rebound/comeback strategy.

I’m an Apple fan and although it’s hard for me to say, but if the Post Steve Jobs Apple company doesn’t adjust rapidly, they will find themselves in the same situation. I know the Apple fans are probably saying “no-way,” well that’s what my BlackBerry buddy who sent me the above tweet said to me about 5 years ago.

Here is the takeaway for organizations and leaders: Change, grow, adjust, stay hungry, surround yourself with the best, find fresh eyes, realize that you are not invincible, understand that success overshadows weaknesses, reinvent yourself when necessary and never ever ever take your customers and success for granted and stay ahead of the curve (BlackBerry Pun Intended).

PS: I guess the same thing can be said about your family and marriage… Never take either of them for granted.

Kevin Durant NBA MVP Acceptance Speech – The Best Acceptance Speech In The History Of The Award

By far the best acceptance speech in the history of the MVP Award. Kevin Durant started by thanking God, he displayed humility, he never focused on himself, he gave personal credit to every single team member and coach, he reflected on the past, he talked about hard work and sacrifice, he shared stories, he made a special note to talk about Westbrook, he gave his mother the credit due and he ended with thanking God last. God is Alpha and Omega.

As a proud member of the Oklahoma City community and Oklahoma City family, I’m glad Kevin Durant is a part of our framily plan. Seriously this guy is a great example and as he stated, “He uses basketball as a platform to inspire others.”

This video is a must watch for anyone that leads, has children, has a desire to succeed or if you just need to cry some tears of joy.

Why Insecure Leaders Need To Wear Glasses

blindInsecure leaders have a hard time seeing the best in other because their eyes are covered by their own insecurities. Insecure leaders have difficulty seeing the value of taking responsibility and ownership for failures because their eyes are covered by their own insecurities. Insecure leaders will never see or realize their own potential because they are blinded by their own insecurities.

Insecure leaders need to put on the glasses of security and confidence that can only truly be found in Jesus.

Find Jesus, Find Confidence, Find Security and See Again.

How To Create A Culture Of Movement and Become A Molder Of Consensus

consensus1Trying hard, working hard and managing can often times be confused with leading.  Leadership is about leading people and creating a natural movement.  Leaders lead people, managers manage things.  A leader should be in the business of creating a culture of movement, a culture of action and a culture of success.

You might ask, “How does a leader do this?”  Leaders are either innately gifted at leading or develop an ability to create buy-in to what they’re selling.  They are able to sell their leadership with a compelling vision and more importantly what’s inside of them is compelling.  Leaders don’t sit around and wait on the wind to blow or people to tell them what to do.   Leaders get things done and develop an army of people to get it done with them.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”  That is one of the most true statements about leadership, it’s not about searching for others to provide answers.  Leadership is about pointing towards a destination and walking the walk until you get there.  If you walk the walk and people believe in what you are selling they will follow you.

If you are molding a sculpture into a beautiful work of art, it takes time to shape, create and form.  The same is true for leadership, it takes time to mold, create and shape a leadership culture of success.

Stop searching for consensus and start molding consensus.

How Leaders and Organizations Can Avoid Leadership Blind Spots

blind spotEven the greatest of leaders have blind spots. Often times leaders and organizations make a habit of looking forward towards their goals and they periodically look in their rearview mirror to see whats coming. The entire organization will follow this same pattern unless the leaders truly encourage otherwise.

By encouraging otherwise, I mean encouraging the challenging of the organization’s direction, decisions, culture, things that just aren’t quite right and pointing out the blind spots. More often than not leaders become comfortable as it relates to what they can challenge, what they can say, what’s sacred and what would be considered obvious blind spots become “things we don’t do, things our boss won’t allow or thing that won’t change”

Leaders should encourage new hires to actively point out blind spots during their 1st 90 days of employment. Those fresh eyes and fresh perspectives are invaluable to an organization. Organizations should consider changing up the executive leadership team from time to time. This one is tricky, because there is tremendous value in having a consistent leadership team; however there is also tremendous value in someone new at the leadership table that is more willing to point out the blind spots and bring a fresh new outlook.

Another great way that an organization can begin to see their blind spots is by bringing in a reputable 3rd party consultant or strategist, whose only agenda is to be objective and help the organization reach their desired goals. Lastly, have a blind spot meeting – a meeting where you invite some of the brightest, most critical, outspoken, futuristic, company Kool-aid drinking and play it safe people all in the same room to do nothing more than point out blind spots. (This is fun)

When organizations make it a point to actively point out blind spots the organization will not only drive with the mindset of looking ahead, and periodically looking in the rearview mirror. The organization can tap into the use of the various side mirrors and overhead perspectives to help them see their blind spots.

Blind spots: Every organization has them, only few are willing to point them out.

Twitter CEO Biz Stone The Future Of Marketing Is Philanthropy and Altruism

Brilliant video and insights from Twitter CEO Biz Stone. Fresh insights on marketing, how twitter started, the how and the why of reaching people. Shares inspiration of starting Twitter.

Championship Organization Are Different – Lessons From The Seattle Seahawks

pete carroll
There are so many awesome stories of great organizations that seem to dance to a different beat. Whether it’s Google’s crazy awesome culture, Steve Jobs crazy quirky leadership at Apple or Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks’ crazy weird championship winning culture. The bottom line is most championship organizations are different.

Since Seattle is the latest example of how doing things different can yield serious results, lets look at some of their difference making decisions. According to an article that I had read on ESPN the magazine back in August, the Seahawks just dance to a different beat. The great thing about the article is the fact that it was written before the Seahawks had proven that they could get back to the Superbowl, let alone hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy.

In Pete Carroll’s own words, “IT”S DIFFERENT HERE!”

During their first training camp meeting, players are met by a psychologist that takes them through meditation and deep breathing. Say What? These are the biggest and baddest men on the planet doing some meditation and breathing techniques. “DIFFERENT!”

Hiring Pete Carroll, a college football coach that already failed several times in the NFL is not a popular or even wise move. “DIFFERENT!”

Carroll preaches positivity, believing in yourself, thinking about success and “Doing your job better than it has ever been done before.” Not necessarily different, but key.

The Seahawks back up their mantra of truly supporting their players by providing a huge support staff of counselors to help players through football and life. They work with the players on a regular basis and have regular mental health check-ups. If your mind and personal life isn’t taken care of there is no way that you can take care of your business in the office or on the field. “DIFFERENT!”

Carroll actually plays the best players, in many organizations the best player doesn’t play, it’s the highest paid, the most popular, the one that currently has the position etc. QB Matt Flynn was paid the big bucks and Pete Carroll decided to bench him and start a 5’10” 3rd round draft pick that 31 other teams passed on named Russell Wilson at QB. “DIFFERENT!”

The Seahawks aren’t scared to make the necessary personnel changes, they have made more roster changes in the last few years than any team in the NFL. “DIFFERENT”

Last but not least, the Seahawks have a different screening process. I truly believe that an organization is only as good as their talent screening and hiring process. As a consultant, this is the #1 thing that I try to emphasize, make sure your screening process and talent search process is right. The Seahawks are very specific when interviewing players and making sure that potential players are a DNA fit. They make sure that candidates don’t use finger-pointing or accusatory type language. They want positivity, optimism and swag. “DIFFERENT”

No matter whether you are a start-up, a church, a mom and pop business or a Fortune 100 organization, if you want to be successful, stop looking at trying to fit in and be the same. Start looking at how you are different and how you can be different. Don’t be different for the sake of being different, be different for the sake of being great.

College or Pro, Little League or Big League, a championship coach is a championship coach. Pete Carroll just put his stamp on that championship statement. As it relates to success, this statement still remains true “Everything begins and ends with leadership.” Offensive leadership – Russell Wilson. Defensive Leadership – Richard Sherman. Overall Leadership – Pete Carroll.

“Think Different!” 

How Great Leaders Inspire Action

A great (now classic) Ted Talk on leadership from Simon Sinek. What’s your why?

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