Phil Jackson on Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal

September 30, 2014 by Joshua
in Leadership

You should know Phil Jackson if you don’t. One of the great basketball coaches of all time, he gets the best out of his players to motivate them to work as a team. He coached Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal, among other greats to eleven championships, plus he won two as a player before coaching.

When you see names like Jordan, Kobe, and Shaq in a leadership context, don’t think “great players,” think “headstrong prima donnas that resist authority.” And I suggest not thinking “From him I can learn to coach others,” think “I’m the prima donna I need to learn to coach.” Don’t waste time thinking about how to attract or hire a team to follow you if you don’t already have one, just use what you learn from him to master yourself.

I show these excerpts in my seminars because they show

  • The intimacy he creates with his players—forming relationships like brothers or father-and-son—in an often macho culture
  • How he learns what his players value and use that to motivate. Watch the part where he talks about Shaq several times until you understand how he saw Shaq competing not with the other players on the court but with Wilt Chamberlain to get him to the MVP award
  • How he treats diverse and disparate but relevant aspects of each player—their body sizes, agility, ages, relative ages, history, communication style, etc
  • The emotion he shows for his players. Do you feel such intensity with people you coach? With yourself?

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