On occasion I think that the plethora of sports-related metaphors used in the business world may be a bit overdone . . . but then a perfect one just falls in my lap. Recently, I read an interview with the newly-hired Boston Celtics head coach, Brad Stevens. I’m admittedly a Stevens fan and his interview responses made me even more of one. In his short interview with Zach Lowe on www.grantland.com, Stevens quickly reminded me of why he is remarkable and why I’m professionally drawn to him.
First, I’ve got to admit that I’m not a born and bred Hoosier. As a Boston-born but Indy-raised individual, I watched Stevens’ departure from Butler University and arrival in Bean Town with mixed feelings. Like many Indianapolis residents, I hated to see him go, but was happy for him to be able to take his talent to the next level. If he had to go, I was happy to see him land in my birth-place.
As a college instructor who teaches IUPUI students leadership theories, I appreciate Stevens’ interest in and continuous references to the qualities of great leadership. He understands how his role as a coach is intricately linked to his team’s success (whether that team is comprised of Bulldogs or Celtics). His interest in servant leadership was noted in an Indianapolis Star article years ago, during one of his runs to the NCAA National Championship. Well-placed off-the-cuff comments such as his make teaching about these leadership theories worthwhile.
And finally, as a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach my ears perk up when anyone – but certainly an up-and-coming NBA coach – makes reference to “using our strengths” as he starts an interview. That’s exactly what Stevens did last week in his interview with Lowe. In the interview, Stevens is given the opportunity to take credit his great coaching skills. Instead, Stevens reflects that compliment back onto his players and credits their abilities – their strengths – as the REAL reason for the team’s success.
See the exchange between Stevens and Lowe below:
ZL: Was there a “Come to Jesus” talk with Jordan Crawford? Did you sit him down and tell him how he’d have to play in order to save and prolong his NBA career? There must have been a frank conversation.
BS: I never had it.
BS: It was more about talking collectively about: “What do we all do well?” And then thinking about what our teammates on the floor do well, and how we all can make them better at what they do. There are very few guys in the NBA who don’t have things they don’t do well. Some of the better players don’t have very many, but everybody is here because they have a strength. So you just try to find your strengths and soar with them.
[Crawford] has done a good job of recognizing his strengths and recognizing his teammates’ strengths.
Brad, I may be quoting you in my next strengths coaching presentation. The sports metaphor can’t get tired and old when you serve up gems like these! Best of luck to you and your Celtics! We miss you here in Indy.
To see the full interview go to: