The Most Successful Leaders Do 15 Things Automatically, Every Day

Peyton Manning draft

Peyton Manning draft (Photo credit: Phlyerssuck)

Here is a great article on leadership that I just found on Forbes.com that I really liked.  Enjoy!

Leadership is learned behavior that becomes unconscious and automatic over time.  For example, leaders can make several important decisions about an issue in the time it takes others to understand the question.   Many people wonder how leaders know how to make the best decisions, often under immense pressure.  The process of making these decisions comes from an accumulation of experiences and encounters with a multitude of difference circumstances, personality types and unforeseen failures.   More so, the decision making process is an acute understanding of being familiar with the cause and effect of behavioral and circumstantial patterns;  knowing the intelligence and interconnection points of the variables involved in these patterns allows a leader to confidently make decisions and project the probability of their desired outcomes.   The most successful leaders are instinctual decision makers.  Having done it so many times throughout their careers, they become immune to the pressure associated with decision making and extremely intuitive about the process of making the most strategic and best decisions. This is why most senior executives will tell you they depend strongly upon their “gut-feel” when making difficult decisions at a moment’s notice.

Beyond decision making, successful leadership across all areas becomes learned and instinctual over a period of time. Successful leaders have learned the mastery of anticipating business patterns, finding opportunities in pressure situations, serving the people they lead and overcoming hardships.   No wonder the best CEOs are paid so much money.   In 2011, salaries for the 200 top-paid CEOs rose 5 percent to a median $14.5 million per year, according to a study by compensation-data company Equilar for The New York Times.

If you are looking to advance your career into a leadership capacity and / or already assume leadership responsibilities – here are 15 things you must do automatically, every day, to be a successful leader in the workplace:

Many times leaders intimidate their colleagues with their title and power when they walk into a room.   Successful leaders deflect attention away from themselves and encourage others to voice their opinions.  They are experts at making others feel safe to speak-up and confidently share their perspectives and points of view.   They use their executive presence to create an approachable environment.

2.  Make Decisions

Successful leaders are expert decision makers.    They either facilitate the dialogue to empower their colleagues to reach a strategic conclusion or they do it themselves.  They focus on “making things happen” at all times – decision making activities that sustain progress.   Successful leaders have mastered the art of politicking and thus don’t waste their time on issues that disrupt momentum.  They know how to make 30 decisions in 30 minutes.

3.  Communicate Expectations

Successful leaders are great communicators, and this is especially true when it comes to “performance expectations.”   In doing so, they remind their colleagues of the organization’s core values and mission statement – ensuring that their vision is properly translated and actionable objectives are properly executed.

I had a boss that managed the team by reminding us of the expectations that she had of the group.   She made it easy for the team to stay focused and on track.  The protocol she implemented – by clearly communicating expectations – increased performance and helped to identify those on the team that could not keep up with the standards she expected from us.

4.  Challenge People to Think

The most successful leaders understand their colleagues’ mindsets, capabilities and areas for improvement.  They use this knowledge/insight to challenge their teams to think and stretch them to reach for more.   These types of leaders excel in keeping their people on their toes, never allowing them to get comfortable and enabling them with the tools to grow.

If you are not thinking, you’re not learning new things.  If you’re not learning, you’re not growing – and over time becoming irrelevant in your work.

5.  Be Accountable to Others

Successful leaders allow their colleagues to manage them.  This doesn’t mean they are allowing others to control them – but rather becoming accountable to assure they are being proactive to their colleagues needs.

Beyond just mentoring and sponsoring selected employees, being accountable to others is a sign that your leader is focused more on your success than just their own.

6.  Lead by Example

Leading by example sounds easy, but few leaders are consistent with this one.   Successful leaders practice what they preach and are mindful of their actions. They know everyone is watching them and therefore are incredibly intuitive about detecting those who are observing their every move, waiting to detect a performance shortfall.

7.  Measure & Reward Performance

Great leaders always have a strong “pulse” on business performance and those people who are the performance champions. Not only do they review the numbers and measure performance ROI, they are active in acknowledging hard work and efforts (no matter the result).    Successful leaders never take consistent performers for granted and are mindful of rewarding them.

8.  Provide Continuous Feedback

Employees want their leaders to know that they are paying attention to them and they appreciate any insights along the way.  Successful leaders always provide feedback and they welcome reciprocal feedback by creating trustworthy relationships with their colleagues. They understand the power of perspective and have learned the importance of feedback early on in their career as it has served them to enable workplace advancement.

9.  Properly Allocate and Deploy Talent

Successful leaders know their talent pool and how to use it.  They are experts at activating the capabilities of their colleagues and knowing when to deploy their unique skill sets given the circumstances at hand.

10.  Ask Questions, Seek Counsel

Successful leaders ask questions and seek counsel all the time.  From the outside, they appear to know-it-all – yet on the inside, they have a deep thirst for knowledge and constantly are on the look-out to learn new things because of their commitment to making themselves better through the wisdom of others.

11.  Problem Solve; Avoid Procrastination

Successful leaders tackle issues head-on and know how to discover the heart of the matter at hand.    They don’t procrastinate and thus become incredibly proficient at problem solving; they learn from and don’t avoid uncomfortable circumstances (they welcome them).

Getting ahead in life is about doing the things that most people don’t like doing.

12.  Positive Energy & Attitude

Successful leaders create a positive and inspiring workplace culture.  They know how to set the tone and bring an attitude that motivates their colleagues to take action.   As such, they are likeable, respected and strong willed.  They don’t allow failures to disrupt momentum.

13.  Be a Great Teacher

Many employees in the workplace will tell you that their leaders have stopped being teachers.   Successful leaders never stop teaching because they are so self-motivated to learn themselves.  They use teaching to keep their colleagues well-informed and knowledgeable through statistics, trends, and other newsworthy items.

Successful leaders take the time to mentor their colleagues and make the investment to sponsor those who have proven they are able and eager to advance.

14.  Invest in Relationships

Successful leaders don’t focus on protecting their domain – instead they expand it by investing in mutually beneficial relationships. Successful leaders associate themselves with “lifters and other leaders” – the types of people that can broaden their sphere of influence.  Not only for their own advancement, but that of others.

Leaders share the harvest of their success to help build momentum for those around them.

15.  Genuinely Enjoy Responsibilities

Successful leaders love being leaders – not for the sake of power but for the meaningful and purposeful impact they can create.   When you have reached a senior level of leadership – it’s about your ability to serve others and this can’t be accomplished unless you genuinely enjoy what you do.

In the end, successful leaders are able to sustain their success because these 15 things ultimately allow them to increase the value of their organization’s brand – while at the same time minimize the operating risk profile.   They serve as the enablers of talent, culture and results.

Please let me know if you have any requests for plays, drills, defenses, etc… Also let me know if you have any articles, plays, drills, etc…that you would like me to publish for you on the site.

You can email me at coachtimmcdonald@gmail.com

Coaching Great Players

English: Basketball player LeBron James during...

English: Basketball player LeBron James during the game Washington Wizards versus Miami Heat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So it has been a long time since my last post.  I have enjoyed another great summer filled with camps, AAU tournaments, team camps, and some rest and relaxation on the beach.  Now that summer is coming to an end, I will begin to post on a more regular basis.  Below is an article written by Mike Procopio that discusses coaching great players.  Enjoy!

Great players in our sport don’t come a long very often. I’m not talking about a player that can be an all star level player, but a player that changes the game and is a franchise player that transcends greatness. We look at them and have different takes on how if given the opportunity would coach and handle them.

Many coaches will never have the opportunity to coach a great player in our careers. Some that are given the opportunity sometimes take on the responsibility and the player benefits, and some don’t handle it correctly and the player as well as the program suffers.

Coaching a great young player at any level is like raising in a child where they need to be nurtured and guided to maximize their potential. Some people think the LeBron’s, Kobe’s and Durant’s just became great with their natural gifts. Great players are made for the most part and not just born that way. Yes they tend to have God given ability, but that ability as well as their mental toughness were developed over a period of time. Having had the opportunity to work closely with some of the game’s greatest players I have a strong opinion on how I would develop a great player in their early stages. The only way this will get done is if you deal with it head on. There is no instruction manual that you can follow as every player is wired differently. Most of what makes a great player is developed off of the court than on it. Anyone can be great on the court, but developing a player off the court is three times as important as developing them on it. So many players get caught in the nothingness because they are not socially developed properly off of the court. Drills are important when developing players, but great habits and attitude off of the court trumps it.

Here are some things that I think coaches should concentrate on.

1.) The player is not a finished product it will take time to develop them to maximize their ability

You can’t expect great players while they are young to dominate right off the bat. Developing them is a long journey filled with peaks and valleys. Your entire staff as well as the player need to dig your heels in the ground and expect a long fight.

Don’t make the mistake of expecting young players to be physically and mentally dominant on a daily basis. Continue to be positive and communicate to them their mistakes as well as what steps need to be taken to correct them. They need to know that you have their back and will continue to encourage them and have their back.

Talk to your player  and let them know that they need to be patient that if they take the right steps they will benefit greatly from it. Patience on the coaching and playing side is a very difficult trait to acquire.

2.) The Development of a great player will mostly consist of off the court development than on.

From what I’ve seen in my career is that most great players can adjust in time. They make take more time than others to mature into the great player that they will become, but as far as the on court basketball  side of it they eventually get it.

A lot of coaches that work with players feel as though the more on the court work that they do with players the more that the player will develop. I think most players don’t make it to their potential because of off the court issues. They are uncoachable, players hate playing with them, off the court legal drama, bad work ethic, etc.

Things come easy for great players, and with that they obtain a false sense of how good they are as well as how much work needs to go into it. Coaches must constantly communicate and meet with players to put out fires and keep the player on track. Easier said than done, but never take for granted the relationship that you can have with your players as well as their confidence and psyche when you put the time in with them off the court as well as on.

3.) Great players need to lead by example.

Not every great player is a verbal leader and that should be understood. Some are just not wired for being verbal leaders and coaches on the floor. But what they need to be are leaders by the example that they show.

Great players come to practice early as well as stay late to get their work in. They not only want to develop their own game, but also set the tone for the rest of the team that not only the team’s best player but the league’s best player is putting in extra work to push themselves to be great.

If you look at the Spurs and how Tim Duncan works so hard not only in games, but in practice as well trickles down to rest of the roster. What this does is it picks up the rest of the players on the roster to bring their game and work ethic to the highest level possible.

I think there is an abundance of players that can dominate in games , but not many can dominate in games as well as put the extra work in as well as bring it every day in practice. I think the selective few that can do that not only bring their own games to other levels, but do the same for their respective teams.

4.) Keep them to the same standards off the court and in practice.

The worst thing you can do with any player is to hold them to different standards as the rest of your team. It not only creates bad habits for the player that you are favoriting, but you are creating a very unhealthy environment for your team.

There are countless examples of players that developed big egos and never lived up to their potential, because they were always held to a different set of rules and standards of everyone else. Things like being on time for practice/games/team functions, respect to others, good practice habits, etc are things that have to be non negotiable.

Great players have to be given bigger leashes on the court as far as their shot selection and ability to play through mistakes. I think the only way great players will learn is to give them big stretches on the floor where they can play through droughts and mistakes.  On the court is the separation between average players and very good/great players. Off the court they are held to the same standards, on it they are given more freedom.

Great players will make mistakes in their early phases of development and I think its important to let them play through it to a certain point. Players lose confidence quickly when they are yanked for every mistake. It is better to get film of the game and go over it with them in film sessions rather than just take them out after every mistake because that will cause them to be afraid of making mistakes.

You cant be afraid to suspend your best player. The rest of the team needs to now that talent doesn’t give players the authority to play by another set of rules as far as conduct, respect, being on time etc. They need to know that you have total control of the situation. Having control of your ship is very important and can’t be taken for granted. If your players think that the best players are held to a lower standard than they are you will lose your team.

5.) Teach them to appreciate criticism and look the person that is giving to them in the eye.

Players today really have a hard time being criticized. They get flustered and feel as though you are demeaning them by telling them what the can’t do or what they did wrong. I think the earlier in a player’s career that they can accept criticism the better that they will be. Some coaches that I have spoken to sometimes sidestep criticism for high level players because they feel as though they will lose them mentally or they will leave their team for another.

The urban legend is that great players hate to be criticized. I’ve found most players like being told the truth. Before working for the Mavericks I worked with players like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and Rajon Rondo. All of them encouraged critiquing because they wanted to be the best at what they did. The best way to approach players is to be up front with them.

I think players that can take criticism early in their career can be easily coached. Of course you have to critique them in a way that doesn’t come across too negative. I think in the right context it can make a difference with the player and help your team in the long run.

Body language is so important for a player. There is nothing worse than not looking someone in the eye when they are talking to you. I know as a coach it really bothers me when a player or anyone that I am speaking to doesnt look me in the eye. It makes me assume that they arent focused in what I am telling them . Players should look their coaches in the eye or anyone for that matter. It shows that they are engaged to the conversation and enables them to capture more out of it.

From the coaches side remember delivery is the most important part of critiquing a player. Deliver the message directly, but identify what the layer can and can’t take. It is all about the delivery.

6.) Toe the line of over coaching and giving a big leash

All players need to be coached. From the best of all-time to the worst player on the planet a player needs the guidance of a coach to maximize their talent and ability. When dealing with a great player you have to give them the guidance to learn as well as hold them accountable  when needed.

I think there are misconceptions about great players on two counts. First, that coaches need to over coach great players. What this means is that they coach them every possession of every game and practice. Second is to given them only the minimum amount of coaching and wait until they become a dominant player.

Great players definitely need coaching. They need positive and educated influences when it comes to their coaches. The problem that comes up is that a coach feels as though they need to coach a player with a lot of talent too much and breathe down their neck all day every day. Thats is a frustrating thing to deal with as a player an will create friction between the player and coach.

The player should definitely be coached , but it is important to give them some freedom when they make a mistake. Give them some time to process their mistake and give them an opportunity to play through it to see if they can self correct in the game. This is a great way to give your player confidence that they are allowed to make mistakes without being yanked.

Players at all levels do want a certain amount of space especially when they are going through a slump. You need to read your player and know their tolerance level of communication especially heated confrontations. Players need to be told when they make mistakes and be held accountable.

On the other side of it not doing anything to confront or hold your star player accountable is a huge mistake. I’ve seen that approach and it destroys the player. They need a certain level of guidance to know the difference between right and wrong. When they aren’t giving a good effort in games or practice they need to know that. If they aren’t executing their coach needs to tell them. You can’t expect great players to figure it out with no help at the beginning stages of their career.

It is hard coaching in general, but with great players its even tougher because you have to know how much to shorten the leash which is a tricky thing. I think if you let them know that you are on them when they make mistakes to help them not repeat them they will appreciate that. But they also can’t get it their head that they run things and can do whatever they want. It is a specigic balance.

7.) They need to know a GOOD can dominate the game on one end a GREAT player dominates on both.

I remember being with the Boston Celtics and watching Paul Pierce play. He had unbelievable footwork. With his combination of size, shooting, strength, and deceptive explosiveness he was one of the best young scoring forwards in the NBA. Defensively he gave an effort, but it wasn’t something that he concentrated on strongly. I think what changed him from an all-star player to a franchise player was his commitment to defense. His ability to shut down anyone at his position was a huge part in the Celtics success of their championship runs.

How I always explain it to players is that Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were both 9 time First Team All-Defense in the NBA. That’s a pretty strong statement on 2 of the All-Time players ever to play the game and their commitment to making stops. Scoring points is an important part of the game, but to combine scoring with the ability to stop people is something special.

Many players have the physical tools to be very good defenders, but lack the focus and commitment to it. It isn’t easy, but it must be something that is preached on a regular basis to your player. I don’t like dropping names while developing players, but once in a while it is good to use names like these to hammer down a point.

Not every player physically is good enough to be a dominating defensive player, but they can always be a good team defender. Continue to teach them and make them buy into how important defense is.

8.) Have an open line of communication with them

As a coach you are the most important basketball tool for your player. They need to know that they can come in to your office or call/text/email you whenever they are having an issue on or off the court.

You need to meet with your player regularly when needed to be able to build emotional equity with them. This will build trust and develop a bond between you and your player. This is something that you should do with all of your players, but definitely needed when developing a great player.

In your communication with them you must tell them the truth and be brutally honest. Honesty is something that all players need. Don’t shy away from confrontation as it is something that will help your players on and off the court. There are so many people involved with our game that aren’t honest with players of all levels and it really hurts the product that is produced. Communication is the key to any relationship and is the key to success.

In closing there is no magic pill, drill, or inspirational quote to get a player better. You need to do most of your work off of the court and needs to be done daily. I always laugh at people who live their life by other people’s sayings and quotes and expect to be successful based on what others say or do. Every one is different. Every player is different and every coach that deals with players are different. What works for Jon Calipari or Bobby Knight won’t automatically work for you.

In the end it is YOU that are in the trenches with your players not John Wooden or someone else. At the end of the day you know yourself and your players better than anyone. You are the difference between players being good and great. Don’t let players go by the waste side by not putting work in. Anyone can get on the court and put layers through great drills. The problem is there is another part to player development and it entails more than what you can read in a coaching book or view in a video. Off the court development with your players is a staple in their development as a player and person. Don’t short change them and yourself as it could help them for years to come.

Please let me know if you have any requests for plays, drills, defenses, etc… Also let me know if you have any articles, plays, drills, etc…that you would like me to publish for you on the site.

You can email me at coachtimmcdonald@gmail.com

10 Undervalued Keys to Great Defense

10 years in the making

10 years in the making (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kevin Eastman is one of the assistant coaches for the Boston Celtics and is heavily involved with Coaching U.  Kevin is considered to be one of the best assistant coaches in the NBA and if you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak at a clinic or catch one of his videos or podcasts, I highly recommend it.  Below is an article I received from Coaching U today written by Kevin Eastman.  Enjoy!

10 Undervalued Keys to Great Defense

By Kevin Eastman

Most of us agree that defense is critical to team success and championship play. Here are some things to think about as you go about your defensive work. You can apply these no matter what defense you play.

FIRST 3 STEPS: The key to all great defenses is getting back in transition and setting your defense so the opponent has to play against your “set defense” all night. The first 3 steps must be an all-out sprint.

LOAD TO THE BALL: It’s vitally important to make sure that the great perimeter players in today’s game don’t see any seams in your defense in transition. Guards today are so good that they will take advantage of any little gap they see while you’re getting back. Pull your defense over to take away these seams, but also be aware of your man.

LOW MAN WINS: Simply put, the lower man between the offensive player and the defensive player usually wins that possession. The lower man has the advantage of the leverage game, the reaction game, and the relative quickness game. Get down and be in a stance, ready to move and adjust.

GET YOUR ANTENNAE UP: Players must be alert to what’s going on around them. Alertness is a trait all the great defensive teams share. This demands readiness in your eyes, your feet, your hands, and your mind.

SNIFFING THINGS OUT: Knowing what’s likely to happen next is an ingredient to all great defensive teams and players. To be able to “sniff things out,” you have to study the game and listen intently during scouting reports.

PLUGGING HOLES: Offenses are very good as well, so they will create problems and find holes in the defense. The great defensive teams are always ready to plug that hole and players have a trust that someone will have their back.

TALK INTIMIDATES: Teams that talk always seem to play with more energy and intensity. Talking lets the opponent know that you see everything they’re doing and that you know their stuff every bit as much as they do. Talking teams also always seem to be the more aggressive teams.

FIRST TO THE FLOOR: There will be a number of possessions in a game that come down to “who wants it more.” Being first to the floor is very important, as is being first to the long rebound. We call this the 50-50 game; we want to win the 50-50 game every night.

FINISH YOUR DEFENSE: How many times have we had a great possession and the opponent gets an offensive rebound? It’s a killer. Finish all slides, finish getting over screens, and finish every possession with a block out and rebound. We never want to start something that we won’t finish.

*TRUST: I’ve saved this for last because it’s the most important component of all great defensive teams. It’s so important for players to know they can be intelligently aggressive. Players who know they have someone behind them to cover their backs can defend with intelligent abandon (NOT careless abandon). Trust actually makes your defense quicker and more alert because there’s no hesitation; a hesitant athlete is a non-athlete.

Please let me know if you have any requests for plays, drills, defenses, etc… Also let me know if you have any articles, plays, drills, etc…That you would like me to publish for you on the site

You can email me at coachtimmcdonald@gmail.com