Phil Jackson – An Exemplary Leader
Phil Jackson, who was an extraordinarily successful basketball coach for the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers, was an exemplary leader. He led with the philosophy that individual and team success is the result of each individual being all they can be personally, in service of something greater than themselves. In his book called Eleven Rings, Jackson shares the lessons he learned that prepared him to be a better leader, along with the many mistakes made on his journey through the jungle of life.
Jackson’s journey is about a personal connection to a higher calling, a greater purpose that enables him to integrate and align his talent, skill, and knowledge with his beliefs. Raised by two ministers, he refutes the rigid doctrines of most religions, but feels a connection to something greater. His growth journey focuses on understanding the intrinsic motivator for each team member to want to serve the greater team. He then coaches them to be the best player they can be, making the team better as a whole. The result is he became the winningest professional head coach of all professional sports with 11 NBA Championships.
Reading about how he worked with Michael Jordon, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neil, and even Dennis Rodman is as good as it gets. All leaders can learn from these examples how they can coach and motivate their exceptional talents to become team players. While the book includes a considerable amount of basketball dialogue that some may wish to skim over, there is a message in the stories that are told. Stories are powerful and Jackson uses them to describe what was happening to the team at the time and how he reacted to their individual and collective performances. When weighing his options, Jackson would always consider what was in the best interest of the team – to respond right away to send a message to the individual and the team, or to wait until later to address the individual? What will be the long term impact on team unity?
The natural evolution for success is revealed in how Phil Jackson managed his teams. He developed and improved as a coach by learning to let go of as much as he could and only reining players in when they strayed. Jackson believed that sometimes the best thing to do can be counterintuitive. He shares that once he got his ego out of the decision-making equation, the right thing to do became much more apparent and an easier decision to make.
Eleven Rings offers readers an opportunity to learn from the successes and mistakes of a great leader which is an integral part of the journey to leadership greatness.