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    Entries in Sports (94)


    If you want more leaders, you have to let them lead

    The NBA Finals are underway, and as I write this post the San Antonio Spurs are still enjoying a 1-0 series lead, primarily due to the steady play of their veteran stalwarts, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Parker, their point guard hit a remarkable shot near the end of the game to put the Spurs in a commanding position, and Duncan shook off a bad start to put up 20 points and 14 rebounds and contributed all-around solid play.

    These two players, (along with Manu Ginobili), with a combined 10 championships between them, have formed the core, of one of the most auspicious franchises in all of professional sports. Throughout the Spurs run of success there has been one more constant - the Spurs long time coach Gregg Popovich. Popovich has been at the helm of the Spurs since the late 1990s, (an amazingly long tenure in the coaching world), and has helped build and lead the Spurs to four titles, (going for number five as we speak). 'Pop' has been successful for a myriad of reasons, (getting the #1 pick in the Draft in 1997 and landing Duncan perhaps the most important and fortunate one), but I'd like to call out just one in this post, one that I think speaks to the trust he places in his leaders, and how he challenges them to continue to develop.

    In Game 1, Parker hit his amazing shot to put the Spurs up by 4 points with just a few seconds left to play. Miami called timeout, and after the timeout would have a just about impossible task, make up 4 points on one possession. But still, stranger things have happened, and a Spurs mistake, say fouling a Miami shooter attempting a 3-point shot made the unlikely scenario at lease possible. In situations like this, coaches always take a minute during the timeout to implore the players on the team leading by 4 to make sure they play smart, do not foul under any circumstances, and generally stay focused and sharp despite the seemingly high probability that victory was safe.

    As I say coaches usually give these kinds of instructions, especially NBA coaches, and especially in the waning moments of what was an incredibly tense and close game, and in the Finals no less, the pinnacle of competition for these teams.  

    What did the Spurs and Coach Popovich do and say during that last, tension-filled timeout? 

    Catch the video below and see, (Email and RSS subscribers will need to click through).

    Did you see that? Tony Parker, the on-court leader of the team, talked with Coach Popovich, made sure they were in alignment on the preferred message/strategy, and then proceeded to walk back the huddle with the other players and run the timeout conversation just like the 'real' coach normally does. 

    Did you see all the players immediately lean in to listen to Parker? Did you notice that Parker sat in the chair facing the other players?, (where in 99% of these timeout huddles you will see the coach usually sits).

    Did you see any of the players looking around, confused, wondering 'Where is the coach?'

    And finally, did you see Popovich sticking his head back in to the huddle at all, to make sure everything was taken care of?

    Of course the answer is No to all those questions.

    Popovich has done a lot of great things in a legendary coaching career, and from this 45 seconds or so we can see that developing leaders is one of them.

    If you want more leaders in any organization, you have to let them lead, like Pop did to Parker in this moment - a big, important moment no less.

    You have to let them lead. It's the only way to know if they will do it. And if they can do it.

    And this is hard to write coming from a guy who is puling for LeBron.

    Have a great week!


    #HRHappyHour 164 PODCAST - 'The 8 Man Rotation Takes on Rutgers'

    HR Happy Hour 164 - 'The 8 Man Rotation Takes on Rutgers'

    This week in what can only be called a very special HR Happy Hour, the entire 8 Man Rotation crew - Kris DunnTim SackettLance HaunMatt 'akaBruno' Stollak, and Steve Boese take a deep dive into the Rutgers University hiring, firing, and public relations disasters of recent months.

    From an abusive men's basketball coach, to internal university and state government politics, to a high-profile new hire that may have some skeletons in her closet - the series of stories that have emerged from the banks of the old Raritan have provided almost a perfect series of case studies on the intersection of sports and HR.

    An no one is better equipped to talk sports, HR, and what it means for the HR and Talent pro than the 8 Man Rotation crew. So check out the podcast as our team breaks down the Rutgers situation and offers some insights about what it means for your shop.

    You can listen to the show on the show page here, using the widget player below, and of course on iTunes or Stitcher radio (for you smartphone types), just search the podcast area for 'HR Happy Hour'.

    Listen to internet radio with Steve Boese on BlogTalkRadio


    Thanks to KD, Tim, Lance, and Matt for jumping in to the conversation on very short notice.



    Finally, for listeners of the show a quick reminder. For the next little while anyway, co-host Trish McFarlane and I will be doing the HR Happy Hour Shows more as a traditional podcast - recorded in advance, perhaps a little shorter than the live shows were, and hopefully posted to the site every other week. With our schedules and lots of travel on the horizon this year, doing the shows 'live' on Thursday nights has become increasingly challenging. Trish and I hope that by changing how the shows are produced it will allow us the opportunity to continue doing the show/podcast in a way that will work with our schedules as well as our future guests.

    Have a great weekend!


    Trying to look better vs. trying to get better

    Quick take from the world of the NBA - and no, I'm not tapping the sports world solely to try and surpass in 2013 the number of contributions I had last season towards The 8 Man Rotation - A Look at Sports and HR E-book.

    So here's the take - if you are an experienced professional near the top of your game, but still have some room to grow to truly reach your ultimate goals - the big promotion, the fatty paycheck, or in the sports world, it might be the Championship title, etc. the outside advice that you seek and who you choose to engage with makes a pretty big statement about your dedication to your craft.

    What do I mean by that?

    Let's take a look at two recent examples from the Association:

    Exhibit A - Deron Williams of the Brooklyn Nets  hires his own personal beat reporter

    Here's an odd story from today's Wall Street Journal, about a new member of the Brooklyn Nets corps of beat writers. Devon Jeffreys is a credentialed reporter like all of the rest, but he's really only at Nets games to cover one player: Deron Williams. And he's there to cover Deron Williams for a website that Deron Williams himself is the owner of: DeronWilliams.com. Athletes having a personal website to trumpet their accomplishments is nothing new, but Williams's site is rare in that it features content that is written like regular news stories, save for the fact that Williams is always the central figure.

    Exhibit B - Kevin Durant of the OKC Thunder hires his own personal performance analytics coach/consultant

    Kevin Durant has hired his own analytics expert. He tailors workouts to remedy numerical imbalances. He harps on efficiency more than a Prius dealer. Durant sat in a leather terminal chair next to a practice court and pointed toward the 90-degree- angle at the upper-right corner of the key that represents the elbow. “See that spot,” Durant said. “I used to shoot 38, 39 percent from there off the catch coming around pin-down screens.” He paused for emphasis. “I’m up to 45, 46 percent now.”

    Pretty obvious that these two 'hires', or personal development strategies represent two strikingly different approaches to performance improvement. Williams' personal beat reporter is there to make Williams look better.  Durant's analytics coach is there to help Durant get better. 

    Now to be fair these examples are kind of cherry-picked - Williams might have his own analytics coach, personal trainer, dietitian, etc. to help his actual game improve. And Durant might have his own PR reps and spin doctors to help his public image. Both players have the resources necessary to have all of their professional bases covered. So it isn't completely fair to call them out in this way with imperfect or incomplete information.

    But you and me?

    If we are engaging with experts or taking the time to get some outside 'performance' help, we probably do have to make choices about where to invest our more limited resources, and perhaps more importantly, our limited time. I think about this a lot in the context of what people do online - maybe it's changing profile pics every other day or making sure they shoehorn in a comment on every LinkedIn group discussion that they know people in their field will see. Or perhaps it's the proliferation of personal branding or career coaches - to me that entire field only exists because people are getting a little too focused on looking better vs. actually getting better.

    If you worry about looking better too much, you might end up looking a little better, sure.

    If you care mostly about getting better, then the looking part takes care of itself.


    The Wisdom of Earl Monroe

    Earl 'The Pearl' Monroe, for the benefit of readers who may not be familiar (shame on you), is a basketball legend who had a Hall of Fame career in the NBA with the Baltimore Bullets and New York Knicks in the 1960s and 1970s. Earl's talent was so immense and otherworldly that in addition to his more popular nickname of 'The Pearl' was also known as 'Black Jesus' early in his playing days.

    Monroe was a rare player - a creative, almost effortless scorer, (he averaged an astonishing 41 points in his senior year in college), who later in his career became an important and team oriented player on some fantastic teams, including one NBA champion in the 1973 Knicks. 

    Earl has a new book out titled Earl The Pearl: My Story, and recently has been doing a number of interviews promoting the book, and the 40th Anniversary of that Knicks championship team of 1973. I caught one of these interviews, on New York sports talk radio, where Earl related a wonderful story of his earliest days learning to play.

    Earl got a late start, even for those days, as a basketball player, not taking up the game until he was 14 years old. As you'd expect, in the beginning Earl was not as good or polished as other kids his age who had been playing for a few years. Earl shared how he'd come home from the playground and tell his mother that he wasn't good enough, and that the other kids all mocked and teased him pretty badly.

    Earl's mom would have none of it. She told Earl to quit complaining. But in addition to the tough love, she also gave Earl a great approach to addressing his problem. She told him to get a notebook and write down the names of all the other boys that were better players than him and that were putting him down. Once the list was written, she then told Earl to keep working, keep practicing, and not to think about what anyone said.

    Then she said, once you improve your game and surpass a player on the list, cross out his name. And keep doing this until all the names are crossed out. Then you can throw away the notebook and know that you have accomplished something you set out to do. And then it would be time for the next goal, and a new list of names in a new notebook.

    It was a great story, and you could tell Earl enjoyed sharing it, and the memory of his Mom and how she helped keep him grounded, focused, and determined. 

    It's also a really neat approach to achieving a difficult goal. Writing the list in the notebook served dual purposes - short term motivation - 'I need to be better than the next guy', while keeping the longer term goal in view - 'Once all the names are crossed out, I can move on to the next big challenge'.

    Very cool and even better to hear a legend like Pearl share the story.

    So, who is on your list in your notebook?


    Spring Break Rewind #5 - 'I will get in there and mix it up'

    Note: It is Spring Break week here in Western New York, (for the school-age kids anyway), and while I will still be working and traveling to New York City to present at a conference, this week will be busier than most. So this week on the blog I'll be re-running some pieces from the last 12 months or so. Yes, I am being lazy. Cut me some slack. Anyway, if you are on Spring Break this week, I hope you have a great little vacation!

    This piece - 'I will get in there and mix it up', originally ran in October 2012.



    Another sports-themed post!

    That's three this week!

    Write what you know, or at least what you can reasonably pass off as knowing, some smart person once said, so yes I am wrapping up a tremendous week on the blog with a little Friday diversion, and once again it is taken from the world of sports. If you don't like it, ask for your money back :)

    This story is about sports, but it is also about chasing a goal, making a commitment, and not letting other people define you, and perhaps more importantly, what you are capable of achieving. And no, it is not about the 'jump from space' guy, that guy is just crazy.

    Submitted for your review, the story of 76-year-old Don Wiberg, and his attempt to land a coveted roster spot for the basketball team the Santa Cruz Warriors of NBA D-League, (the 'D' stands for 'Developmental', think of the league as a minor league feeder and place where raw talent can refine their skills to be better prepared for the NBA).

    Catch the video below, (Mr. Wiberg enters at about the :50 second mark, email and RSS subscribers click through), and see if you caught the most imporant line in the clip.


    So did you catch that? Here's the important part of Wiberg's assessment of his own skills:

    'I can't say that I can run or jump or shoot because I can't, but for a guy who can't run or jump or shoot, I'm a decent passer, and I'll get in there and mix it up.'

    Think of every job interview you've participated in, and whether as the interviewer or the interviewee, I would bet either way you'd be lucky to have such an honest presentation and assessment of a candidate's skills to be considered. It hits the 'What's your biggest weakness?' question, and simultaneously presents what the candidate will bring to the table.

    And in this case what Wiberg offers may be more important to long-term success than any job-specific skills you are looking for.

    Sure, in professional basketball there is only so much willingness to 'mix it up' that can compensate for a lack of basic, essential sports skills and physical requirements that a 76-year-old will just not be able to produce, but for the vast majority of the roles in our organizations those same physical skills are either not relevant, or can be learned.

    And for those, that willingness to 'mix it up', might be more important than all the other skills combined.

    I'm out - have a great weekend all!