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5 Business Lessons from Coach Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs


Stashed in: LinkedIn, Basketball, Culture, Grit, Leadership, Coaching

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With Popovich’s leadership and support, the Spurs have created an environment in which trust, respect, hard work, and selflessness are lauded, applauded, and reinforced at every level.

Why don't other teams do this too? Or is he exceptional?

4. Be resilient. 

Merriam-Webster defines resilience as: the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens.

For you non-NBA fans, it might be interesting to know the Spurs organization was moments away from also winning the NBA championship last year. Ahead by 5 points with only 28 seconds left in a potentially series ending game with the Miami Heat, the game seemed all but put away. However, the team normally known for their discipline and attention to detail uncharacteristically fell apart in those last few seconds – losing not only that game but also the following – and thus missed out on what many thought was the last chance for the aging Spurs to win it all.

How would they bounce back?

Popovich made sure the team learned from those mistakes – and used them as motivation. Multiple members of this year’s championship team mentioned last year’s Finals failure as an aid to keeping them focused…They refused to forget that bitter feeling, and the end result was redemption earlier this month: the most lopsided NBA finals victory ever.

If your team suffers a de-motivating setback, remember: Life is full of disappointments! The agony of defeat can be crushing – or it can be used to develop a laser-like focus that inspires performance at the highest level.

When disaster strikes, pick up the pieces, learn from your mistakes, and try again. Above all – refuse to give up.

5. Care about company culture. 

The class of the league. Ultimate professionals. A culture of excellence. These are expressions outsiders have used to describe ‘The Spurs Way’.

So what is ‘The Spurs Way’? It can be difficult to define, but essentially it is a culture built around a values system – a system which is then inculcated into each and every part of the San Antonio Spurs organization. It works because everyone buys into it – from the role players to the star players, from the assistant coaches to Coach Pop himself.

With Popovich’s leadership and support, the Spurs have created an environment in which trust, respect, hard work, and selflessness are lauded, applauded, and reinforced at every level.

Sound too good to be true? It isn’t. Do an internet search for interviews with Spurs players and coaches, and see how these qualities are consistently reflected – by everyone.

Doesn’t sound like your style? Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, the Spurs say.

Fellow NBA organizations know how valuable training under The Spurs Way is; many former Spurs players, coaches, and executives now have positions of responsibility in teams around the league. A quick look at this chart (already 3 years old) shows formerSpurs members on 14 NBA teams – but that reach has certainly grown by now.

Remember: Culture starts at the top. Employees often complain about company rules or ‘codes of conduct’, not because they don’t like or agree with them – but because their own leaders refuse to follow them.

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