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    « HR Carnival - Holiday Time | Main | Do you Read These? »

    The Wisdom of Jeff Van Gundy

    The always entertaing former NBA coach turned announcer Jeff Van Gundy was reflecting on the difficulty that many coaches have with connecting with their much younger and far wealthier players.  Van Gundy's opinion was that a coach's message can, over time, start to lose its resonance, and it's effectiveness. JVG

    Van Gundy made what I thought was an excellent point in the discussion:

    If you as leader are the only one that always has to tell the truth, then you need more leaders on the team.

    It makes sense. If the coach, manager, or leader is the sole voice of the organizational 'truth', he or she will always be fighting an uphill battle. In the NBA, Van Gundy felt that you needed one or two players, preferably star players or at least starters, that were completely on board with the coach's approach and could help to reinforce the 'right' way to prepare, practice, and play. These respected players could help keep the team together, and serve as a kind of validation for the coach's program.

    I think this concept can apply in corporate organizations as well. Work groups and teams all have some natural leaders, roles models, and respected members. Managers that can forge understanding and connection with these leaders will likely have a better opportunity to fold in all the entire team, perhaps leading to a more cohesive, and better functioning group.

    This idea of leveraging key internal leaders or champions also has application in tools and technologies that are being increasingly deployed inside organizations to facilitate collaboration in the enterprise.  Technologies like wikis, forums, and microblogs are often positioned by project leaders as solutions that will bring significant value to all members of the organization. But they also can have 'adoption' problems, with many employees reluctant to replace traditional and proven methods of collaboration (e-mail, phone, voice mail, shared network drives) with the new processes and tools.

    Recruiting and deploying 'champions', a few key and hopefully respected employees to serve as guides and leaders in the adoption of these new approaches, and that serve as examples for the other members of the organization to follow is often a critical success factor in these projects. These are the ones that will kick-start forum discussions, post new findings on a wiki page, and actively share bookmarks, and tag and organize content.  Without these leaders, your project may not thrive.

    Just like the great JVG says, if you as coach, leader, or technology evangelist are the only one 'telling the truth' you are going to have problems getting everyone to see the light.

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    Reader Comments (8)

    This is a valuable post, thanks for sharing Steve. Learning and adopting new technology can be useful in stages.

    So true, there is more strength for acceptance in numbers. We call the buyers innovation brand ambassadors perhaps and it cannot just be left to the role models and leaders. Like so many things in life, I suppose awareness that there is a missing link is the very first step.

    December 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeghan M. Biro

    Meghan - Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. I like the term 'innovation brand ambassadors', it makes perfect sense to describe the role of the early adopter that way.

    December 23, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

    Excellent post. All too often managers forget they are leading a team of individuals. To be a great leader, you have to allow those you lead be harness and develop their own leadership qualities. The point is also made that not everyone is a "leader" and that is ok. Not everyone on a team should be a leader. There needs to be a few leaders the rest of the team can look to for direction.

    December 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Black

    @Michael - Thanks so much for the comments, much appreciated. So true that not everyone can and should be a leader. The team needs all kinds of strengths to be successful. Thanks for reading.

    December 23, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve


    With your sports and technology segues you only touched on the problem (and opportunity!) that is the core to your very valuable insight. To rephrase it slightly: leaders aren't necessarily managers, and managers aren't necessarily leaders, and in a collaborative enterprise we need as many leaders as we can get. Not to boss each other, but to muster all the resources and resourcefulness that the team (organization, entire society) has at its disposal.

    I've never read your blog before, and perhaps you did this already, but perhaps you could think and write on the implications of the fact that more often than not, for the reasons of personal careerism and office politics, appointed managers suppress the natural situational leadership of the people they were appointed to lead. As a researcher in this field, I estimate that worldwide that is the fact in 95-99% of all organizational situations. Think of the reserves we are missing... Think of the waste we produce... Think of the ways to get out this bizarre situation...

    Best, Andrei


    December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndrei Vorobiev

    This is a valuable post, thanks for sharing Steve. Learning and adopting new technology can be useful in stages.

    December 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEssays

    @Andrei - Thanks for your suggestions and comments, I think you raise some excellent questions and points that merit further examinations.

    @Essays - Thanks very much!

    December 28, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

    The prices of these cheapest cheap MBT shoes wholesale are only two or three percent of the market price. Don’t worry about the quality of cheap MBT shoe wholesale.

    September 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterugg

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