Being a TopGrading advocate, I find it hard to admit that in my reading of Eleven Rings (Phil Jackson’s book on his 11 NBA Championships with the Bulls and the Lakers) I’ve learned that having great players on your team isn’t necessarily enough for growth.

One of the knocks on Phil Jackson, with both the Bulls and the Lakers, is that he won because he had the best talent.  And it’s true that he probably had the best talent in the league with both teams.  But until he arrived, these loaded lineups weren’t getting out of the second round of the playoffs, forget about the winning the championship.  And with the Bulls, he didn’t win right away.

These teams were a collection of stars, who didn’t play well together.  They were great players delivering a less than great outcome.  Jackson’s main work as coach was to create awareness between the players, about the talents of the rest of the team, about the strategy they were executing, and about the competition they faced each game.

Daily meetings, practices centered on the strategy, watching film about applying the strategy to that day’s situation, making each other aware of the impact others had on the outcome of the game.  Phil created dialog through and around these things.  They worked on it everyday.  And over time they became the two of the greatest teams ever.

So it begins with working hard to assemble a great team, but then it continues on an ongoing basis to make sure the great talent works together.

Running a business isn’t quite the same as running an NBA team.  The pace isn’t the same, and the intensity is different.

Some questions for you to ponder regarding this blog post:

  • How often is your team meeting for open and direct dialog on strategy, their actions, and collaboration opportunities?
  • What are you doing to make sure all parts of the team understand and appreciate the roles and contributions of each part of the team?
  • What are you doing to make sure each team member is on the way to becoming great?
  • And since you probably can’t go out and buy a team of superstars, what are you doing to make sure  your new teammates have the ability to become great and work with others like them?

Stick with me on this series, I have at least three more insights to share in the Eleven Rings Series of posts.

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