One of the most interesting and unexpected assignments I have ever had in my career in Talent Selection and Development was in designing and conducting improved psychological testing for the NBA and WBNA. Our firm was tasked with developing high performance models by testing NBA Hall of Fame players and current All-Stars, including a sample of successful head coaches and front office executives and using their data as a benchmark for future draft choices, coaches and executives.
As a former college basketball player there were days when I had to pinch myself and be sure I was really in the room with stars I had admired and watched for years.
Over the next two years the combined experience of analyzing data and having in-depth discussions with these professionals regarding their own lessons learned made it clear that there were several similarities between these high performing athletes and leaders and the people in high performing companies. Here are some of the things we found:
1. Hard work does pay off
2. The game is bigger than any individual
3. Leadership isn't limited to the person with the title
4. Receptivity to coaching is critical, no matter how good you are
5. Meet your commitments
6. Deal with defeat; learn from it and move on
7. Don't let being the best make you complacent
8. Peer feedback is as important as feedback from the leader
9. If the leader doesn't set the tone and culture someone else will
10. It isn't always "the star" who creates the victory
11. Self-confidence in the face of competition is important but arrogance is deadly
12. When you are at the top of your game someone wants to take your place
13. Even if something comes naturally to you, practice and repetition is still important
14. Under-utilized talent is detrimental to any team
15. A good captain isn't always the best or most important player on the team but does know how to motivate and be a positive role model
16. Be willing to change as the game unfolds
17. What enabled you to beat yesterday's or today's competitor might not win tomorrow
Is your team positioned for high performance?