Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors faced Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Not only is this leader a rookie head coach, but this is actually his first season as a coach at any level.
Golden State has waited forty years for this moment with a championship on the line. His team was down 2 – 1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. So, what would you do if your 28-year-old “special assistant” brought you a recommendation to change the starting lineup?
Wait, before you answer, consider Nick U’Ren’s role. Technically, U’Ren isn’t a coach or a scout. He’s the team DJ yes, he compiles the playlist of music that blares during Warrior practices. He edits tons of video for film sessions. He rebounds for Stephen Curry keeping track of how many three-pointers the MVP makes. And, he serves as an admin for Head Coach Kerr, reminding of radio interviews, etc.
“Hey boss, I’ve got an idea…”
Sitting in his room Wednesday night at Cleveland’s Ritz-Carlton, U’Ren watched old video from the 2014 NBA Finals. That’s when the idea came to “go small” and change Golden State’s starting line-up. Passing his idea up the chain of command, he called assistant coach Luke Walton. At 3:00 a.m. Walton texted Kerr with the idea, so he’d see it first thing in the morning.
Thursday morning the staff debated the idea. The Warriors won 67 regular season games pretty much with the same starters.
Questions. Doubts. Decision.
Lee Jenkins reports, Steve Kerr “concluded that change was healthy and necessary, to shake the team from its obvious malaise.”
“It was his decision,” Walton said. “It’s always his decision. But this is why he’s the greatest boss in the world. We can all make suggestions, even a video guy, and he’ll seriously consider them.”
Cohesive Team Behaviors
What I notice in this story is how the Golden State leadership team functioned. As a self-managed team, they have the “superglue of team performance”…
- Engaged Communication
- Commitment to a Decision
Thursday night Steve Kerr went with his assistant’s suggestion.
The Golden State Warriors won Game 4 103-82 over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Keeping with the “new” strategy they beat the Cavaliers 104-91 in Game 5. And the success story continued as the Warriors won Game 6 105 – 97 finishing the journey as the NBA champions for the first time in 40 years.
Perhaps the least-likely-team-member (off the court) saved the season.
Creating Space for Reflection
When Steve Kerr landed the head coach position, he hired people he believed in. But perhaps just as important, “He gave all of them a voice, regardless of rank, creating a culture where they aren’t afraid to speak—or text, even at 3 a.m., even in the middle of the Finals.”
What’s it like to be on your team?
- How would you rate team trust?
- How well do you engage in healthy debate?
- What about the commitment to a decision?
- What about personal responsibility to the team?
- Where’s the focus, is it on team results or individual performance?
Here’s to your next bold move,
PS: The future belongs to self-managed teams. Learn how team-based coaching develops cohesive teams.
Image credit: Earl via flickr