Have you ever wondered why some teams have sustained success over a long period of time while others appear to be a flash in the pan? What are the keys to being good team for a extended period of time? Today, the San Antonio Spurs will challenge the Golden State Warriors in a best-of-seven series to earn the right to play for the NBA championship.
The Spurs have made play-offs in 30 or the last 33 years. They have won 50+ games for 20 consecutive seasons. As I researched a series of old articles from my files, several truths became evident and are important for all leaders, regardless of your profession, to know about sustained success.
The following are 19 Habits Of Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams: A Profile Of The San Antonio Spurs:
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Have Stable Executive Leadership – Gregg Popovich because the Spurs head coach inn 1996. He is the longest reigning head coach of any United States professional team. R.C. Buford was hired by the Spurs as the team’s Head Scout in 1994. He was promoted to the Director of Scouting in 1997. Two years later he was promoted again the the position of Vice President/Assistant General Manager. In 2002, he was named the team’s General Manager where he has served since.
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Have Stable Team Leadership – Future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker won more games and play-off games during their 14 years together as any trio in NBA history.
June 10, 2013 Sports Illustrated
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Embrace And Empower Mavericks – Coach Popovich said of Ginobli, “I have to learn to shut up and stop coaching, because if you put him too much in a cage, you lose the benefit.”
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Are Spontaneous And Creative – Ginobli is a player fueled by intuition.
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Are Highly Competitive – Duncan said of Ginobli, “He’s the ultimate competitor. He doesn’t care if you’re down 20. If he’s on the floor, he’s trying his d#$dest to do everything he can to win.”
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Understand Their Mortality – There is a season and life-cycle to everything. Duncan said, “We all try to hold on to the game as long as possible. Do it as much as you can until you can’t do it anymore.”
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Build Long-Term Relationships With The People They Hire – Coach Popovich said, “Time spent…Tony was 19 when he came in. I’ve been mentoring and talking to him about life all this time. When you’re that close to people for that long, you develop a relationship that’s loving and trustful.”
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Hire People With Great Character – Popovich sites their (Duncan, Parker, Ginobli) character, cheering on their teammates and showing constant patience with the countless role players coming in and out of the organization over the years.
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Have Each Other’s Backs – The three superstars have never degraded one another in the press.
June 23, 2014 Sports Illustrated
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Sense And Seize Opportunities – Coach Popovich teaches the team when it comes to shot selection, “Good to great.” This means turn down average shots in favor of better ones.
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Cultivate And Maintain A Strong Team Concept – Former Spurs player Matt Bonner said, “It’s a team concept more than X’s and O’s. A lot of it is intangible. A lot of it is upstairs.”
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Hire Smart People – Former Spurs plater Tiago Splitter added, “We’re not an athletic team. We don’t jump over people and do 360s. What we have is our smarts and our system.”
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Create A Culture Of Continual Improvement – Buford said, “We get everybody in a room and ask each other, ‘What can we do to help this player?'”
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Think Differently Than Other Teams – On how to beat an athletic defense, an unnamed Spurs assistant coach said, “You do that by moving the ball – because the ball moves faster than the feet.
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Are Not Dependent On One Or Two Superstars – Former Spur Boris Diaw said of the 2014 Miami Heat featuring LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, “One-on-one they’re better than us. But we have a better team.” We were reminded of this when the Spurs eliminated the Houston Rockets last week with both Parker and current superstar Kawhi Leonard out of the game with injuries.
March 14, 2016 Sports Illustrated
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Hire People Who Put The Attention On Others Rather Than Themselves – Leonard told his AAU coach Marvin Lea, “I don’t need the exposure.” He added, “I don’t like to bring attention of myself. I don’t like to make a scene.”
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Hire Humble And Low-Maintenace People – At the time of this article, Leonard often drove a ’97 Chevy Tahoe and lived in a two-bedroom apartment during the summers. He also still used coupons from his sponsorship of Wingstop to often buy food.
- Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Want To Be Great Badly – Coach Popovich said of Leonard, “He wants the greatness badly. He doesn’t give a d*#n about stardom…He loves the game. He ignores the rest of it.”
And finally one more. Highly Sustainable And Successful Teams Are Willing To Continually Change – When the team won its first championship in 1999, it featured two seven-foot players, Duncan and Hall of Famer David Robinson. They ranked 19th in the league in possessions per game. They played with a slow pace. From 2012 to 2014, they changed personnel and subsequently ranked in the top 10. The is only one example of numerous changing styles, approaches, personnel, and the roles of individual players over the last two decades. This has been the truest sign of the greatness of Buford and Coach Popovich.
What is one thing you can learn from this list which will better position your organization for sustained success?
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