Head of Marketing & Customer Engagement
Can Basketballs ‘GOAT’, Michael Jordan help improve your practice performance?
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan.
Many of you, like me, will have been binge-watching a Netflix series or two whilst in lockdown. Hopefully you’ve had the chance to catch ‘The Last Dance’, a docuseries about Michael Jordan’s all-conquering Chicago Bulls and their hunt for a sixth NBA title in the 1997-98 season. If there was any doubt that Jordan is basketball’s “GOAT” (Greatest Of All Time), I’m pretty sure that question mark has been well and truly quashed!
The part that stood out for me is that none of that success came easy, he had to work (“damn hard”) for it. So, it got me thinking about my own performance in life – parenting, marriage, work, exercise, sport. I started to ask myself questions like – am I performing at my best? If not, how can I improve my approach, attitude, and outlook? If I am, how do I sustain this performance?
It also led me to writing this article and to ask the legal community; How many times have you missed? How many times have you failed? And when you did how did you react? You see, performing at the highest possible level in sport or business comes at a price, and that price is the knowledge that, like it or not, you will fail on your way to the top.
Thriving Under Pressure
One of Jordan’s greatest strengths was his ability to deliver when under pressure. In tight situations when his team needed results, Jordan was always willing to step up and make the deciding play.
Jordan did not let the weight of the moment drag him down; instead his fierce need to win and competitive nature drove him to deliver when it mattered the most. His ability to thrive under pressure was anchored by his belief in his skills (honed by years upon years of practice) and his control of his emotions.
Whether it’s sports, business, or whatever your sphere of influence is, you will face stressful situations as a leader. Be confident of your decision-making skills, use your experience to guide you, and don’t let emotions rule the day. Develop the skills and mental strength to thrive under pressure. It’s during these moments that your team needs you the most, so don’t shy away from the responsibility of making tough decisions.
Trust Your Team
Although Jordan’s first five seasons with the Bulls were good, it was his later years with the team, under the coaching of Phil Jackson, that earned him legendary status and 6 championship rings. The difference? Jackson moulded Jordan into a team-player who trusted his teammates. By the time Jackson became head coach of the Bulls, it was clear that Jordan was a star player. But Jackson knew he needed more than one great player to win championships; he needed an exceptional team.
So, Jackson persuaded Jordan that his leadership was needed in order to strengthen the unity of the team. Jordan made the effort to get to know his teammates off the court, and on the court, his work ethic and tenacity challenged them to meet his standards. As the bonds between the players strengthened, so did their play during games.
As a leader, resist the temptation to run a one-man show. You cannot achieve greatness on your own! Instead surround yourself with talented, capable people who share your vision, the tools to get the job done and trust them to help your business succeed.
What makes a great basketball team?
Having a great scorer? Having a great defensive presence? Both? Neither?
What makes a great software team?
Best software? Having the most talented developers? Having the best slogan? Being the most innovative?
In basketball, there is more to building a great team performance than simply hiring offensive scorers, it’s about creating balance on both ends of the floor and how well the players play together. In many respects, software is very similar. It’s not always about having what could be considered the best software, it’s having a team of people who work with you to create solutions that allows you to defeat the challenges you face day in day out.
In basketball it’s not uncommon to label players and teams; Michael Jordan is an offensively minded player, Dennis Rodman is a defensively minded player, Chicago Bulls are the greatest team in the world (in the 90s anyway!). Software companies are similar in that we often have areas of expertise that often leads to labels and statements, “the best system for lawyers and staff working from home”, “specialist practice management”, “best practices operate with insight”. However, while players have specialities all players must be “good enough” at other areas to not create deficiency in the team.
Great Basketball Teams:
- Optimise to win games
- Win at all costs
- Adjust to the team they face
- Have players who play well with their teammates.
- Put success ahead of personal accomplishment
- Have players who are great at their position
Great Business Leaders:
- Optimise to grow
- Succeed at all costs
- Adjust to the challenges they face
- Have team members who work well together
- Put the businesses and their team members success ahead of personal accomplishments
- Have people who are great at their job type
Great Software Companies:
- Develop innovative solutions
- Success is led by the client
- Adjust their product to fit their clients’ needs
- Have team members who work well with clients
- Put their client’s success ahead of their own business accomplishments
- Have people who are great at their job type
The point is that having the best offensive or defensive player doesn’t necessarily win championships. What ultimately wins is great team play and adjustment to the team and situation you’re playing in. If the key scorer is getting double-teamed, someone else must step up and a new game plan has to be made.
If our Development Manager is tackling some “workflow stuff” which has been set out by our biggest client and some other “technical support” is required for a sole practioners but requires input from the Development Manager, perhaps they need to step up and help out. Sure, that person isn’t as good a Support Manager, but last I checked it doesn’t matter who scores the points at the end of the game – two points from Rodman counts the same as two points from Jordan.
Software is the exact same way. Great software teams optimise to deliver the best experience to help you deliver maximum practice performance, regardless of client size, who did what task before, how much money you’re spending, etc. Everyone is in it together. We’re a team. Yes, specialisation is important, however it’s the use of the specialisation in partnership with everyone in the team that leads you to winning.
Whether you’re the scorer on the team, the backup person, or the defensive specialist, I would encourage you to not only learn your own position well but be well rounded enough to help your team get the tools they need to win in any and all situations.
Michael Jordan said; “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”
At Denovo we say; “Lawyers run law firms, but teamwork and intelligent software wins more business.”
Change the game plan because your practice performance matters to you and to your clients.
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