The NBA franchise New York Knicks have a new president. An AP article described some aspects of the on-boarding of Phil Jackson; it all started with a conversation at a party by Jackson-mutual friends about coaching first… then more talking convinced Phil to take the role of president for $12… million-a-year, that is! What the article did not overtly state was, I think, a team ownership departure from entertaining basketball to a new vision and purpose: winning.
You see, today the Knicks have marquee players like Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani… and their record currently is 29-41. Of course, Jackson knows you need talent to win championships… you may recall a couple of standouts like Michael Jordan in Chicago and Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles? The bottom line outcome of those Jackson teams?: 10 NBA championships.
However, the key to winning for Jackson, I believe, was his insistence that Michael and Kobe elevate their teammates.
That belief came through in the article as he described how he would turn the ship from entertainment to winning. He talked about how the Knicks currently lacked continuity (leadership) and solidarity. Solidarity in any organization comes from the leader’s core beliefs… his or her heart. What does Phil Jackson believe?
He plans to build his firm (team) by “working the bushes for players next year” (he has a temporary salary cap problem) that fits his style of teamwork. Note: “his style”. That means that he will look for skill and an attitude that suits his beliefs and system around teamwork… unselfish play not by command, rather because of a buy-in to his “phil-osophy”… pun intended. He says he will be accessible (high touch) and focus on “how players are treated”and “the kind of culture that’s built”. I think that means a culture of winning by inspiring the parts to become more as a whole. When leaders have a “true north”, they attract others who share similar traits and who know that their innate desire for contribution, belonging and purpose can best be fulfilled… at that place of business… or arena.
The article did make one interesting observation: when Phil Jackson played in the 60’s and 70’s his teammates not only thrived on the court but were well-known well-liked around the city. There was one hint to that in Jackson’s comment when he said “this is the best place to play basketball”.
Engagement happens at the top… leaders attract it, don’t you?