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Monday, June 26, 2017

Steve Kerr Leadership Concepts

The Team Building Strategies of Steve Kerr is a little book sharing big ideas. "Team Building" is so small that I reread it while on the treadmill yesterday. 

We know that students learn more from a 1000 word summary of a chapter than reading the entire 5000 word chapter. So I encourage students (and myself) to create summaries that build our knowledge and perspective. 

The authors divide the book into three sections: MENTORS, CULTURE, and MINDSET. I'll share a couple of quotes and summarize key takeaways. 

"That's been a good lesson for me: run six or eight things really well, instead of 20 things in a mediocre fashion."

"Write down everything. Everything you've learned, everything you want to do. Everything you'd change. It'll organize your thoughts. Develop your philosophy." 

"The knowledge that every teammate truly wants the best for you, and will sacrifice whatever it takes in the moment to help both you and the team - that has to be a powerful feeling."

"Does everyone in the organization feel as if their voices are being heard?"

"Good ideas can come from anywhere. Don't let your ego prevent you from getting advice or counsel from others." 


Kerr played for or coached with many outstanding coaches, including Lute Olson (Arizona), Lenny Wilkens, Phil Jackson, and Gregg Popovich. But he didn't just observe, he kept notebooks of information he valued and plays he liked. He built not only a resume' but a dossier of things he liked in a Powerpoint presentation. A career backup, he understood the value of engaging everyone on the team. With parents who were educators and his time with Popovich, he encouraged players to learn more about the world and keep perspective outside of basketball. 

He also learned in the broadcast booth, spending valuable time with Jeff Van Gundy and interviewing NBA coaches about their beliefs and strategies. 


Kerr didn't tear down the foundation that Mark Jackson built, as Kerr inherited a fifty-one win team. He emphasized enhancing what was already working, on getting better. He encouraged fun and blasted rock music at practice. He met with players during the offseason to discuss his vision, even flying to Australia to meet with Andrew Bogut. He had the spontaneity to take the coaches from practice to a dip in the Pacific, because they needed a break. 


Kerr is a constant learner and an avid reader. Earlier in his career, he asked to participate in a Spurs coaching retreat. He values input from everyone, and the story of how he got input from Video Coordinator Nick U'Ren in 2015 that led to a lineup change (inserting ultimate Finals MVP Andre Iguodala into the lineup) speaks to his flexibility and openness. 

Kerr might be labeled kinder and gentler by some. But he walks the walk, an adult orphan whose father, a Middle East politics expert, was killed by terrorists. He values equality and respect, another part of his playing history as a reserve.

The primary lessons from 'Team Building' are communication, openness, inclusiveness, respect, attention to detail. and the power of culture to get the most from our teams.  

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