Do you care about the people you lead or are you using them to serve you and meet your needs?  The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat are currently battling for the NBA championship.  In the June 2nd edition of Sports Illustrated, the great basketball writer Lee Jenkins profiled Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

Coach Popovich, affectionally know as Pop, is generally considered pro basketball’s best coach.  Part of the reason he is so admired is how much he genuinely cares for his players.

After reading the article and using Coach Popovich as a case study, I gleaned the following are 9 Practices Of Leaders Who Truly Care About Their Teams.  See if these describe you as a leader:

  1. Leaders Who Truly Care About Their Teams Take A Long-Term Approach – Near the end of the 2000 regular season, star center Tim Duncan tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee.  Rather than rushing him back, coach Popovich sat him out of the playoffs choosing to allow him to properly heal.
  2. Leaders Who Truly Care About Their Teams Take Responsibility For Their Well-Being – Former assistant coach Brett Brown said, “There is a human side of Pop – a care for his players and a responsibility to them – that trumps a lot of other things.”
  3. Leaders Who Truly Care About Their Teams Relieve Their Burdens And Stress – Coach Popovich’s practice of limiting his players’ minutes and practice time is well documented.  Understanding what is really important, he says to his team, “I don’t need your energy in the morning (at practice).  I need it at night (during the game).”
  4. Leaders Who Truly Care About Their Teams Plan Well – A failure to plan for your team’s success and well-being is a plan to fail.  Brown goes on to add, “Pop has a way of delivering a team to April that is meticulously calculated.”
  5. Leaders Who Truly Care About Their Teams Develop Systems – Through new player acquisitions, slump, injuries and other items, Coach Popovich remains ruthlessly consistent in how committed he is to his vision and system for maximizing team performance.
  6. Leaders Who Truly Care About Their Teams Get Them Some Help – Great teams have great depth.  You cannot limit player minutes and practice time without having adequate replacements to fill the void during their absence.  This past season the Spurs bench averaged 45.1 points per game, the fourth highest total in NBA history.  Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks says, “They (always) have five guys that can score on the floor at the same time.”
  7. Leaders Who Truly Care About Their Teams Celebrate Their Success – What gets rewarded gets repeated.  Duncan says, “If someone is doing well…we’re going to go with them.  I got a chance to keep my minutes down, and we still win.”
  8. Leaders Who Truly Care About Their Teams Are More Successful Are More Confident And Secure – Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr says, “A lot of young coaches coach out of fear.  They don’t feel like they can lose a game.  When they get more security, more confidence, they start to understand the power of the bench…He prepared his bench to hit big shots.”
  9. Leaders Who Truly Care About Their Teams Always Have People Wanting To Work For Them – Leaders who serve others rather than serving themselves often have people lining up to join their teams.  Spurs forward Danny Green contacted Coach Popovich and said, “I’ll be your ball boy, water boy, whatever.”

Do these nine practices describe you as a leader?  More importantly, if you privately surveyed your team, would they say you care about them?

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