Pamela Wilson

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4 Simple Ways to Run Your Business like an NBA Team Captain

I’m very happy to feature a guest post from Laura Petrolino today. Laura’s a sports fan, as we saw in this post. I loved her take on what the best NBA players can teach us about business, and I hope you do, too! –Pamela Wilson

brand strategies learned from the leadership qualities of an NBA captainToday, the NBA is half sport and half soap opera, with a cast of characters complete with both divas and criminals (all with really big feet). However if you look beyond the hype, you’ll find a few shining examples of extremely talented leaders. Players who succeed — not just because they know how to play the game, but because they know how to lead.

As a former Portland, Oregon resident and long time Trail Blazer fan, Brandon Roy is the epitome of leadership. His role with the Blazers over the last five years can provide leadership insights for any business owner.

So if you want learn how to run your business like Brandon Roy, strap on a pair of size 12 Nikes and take note:

1. Image Building

By most accounts Roy is the face of the Portland Trail Blazers. When Roy first came to the Blazers, the team was fondly nicknamed the “Jail Blazers” and was best known as having a stellar mix of overpaid thugs. Not only was the team a joke in the NBA at large, but most importantly support among their previously zealous Portland fan base (this girl included) swiftly dwindled. With Roy in the mix, order has been restored, respect has been regained and Portlanders once again love their Blazers as much as their lattes!

When you own and/or manage a business you’re a core part of the brand, whether you like it or not. What you do and say — whether it’s business or personal — reflects back on your business. There is no dividing line.

In addition, as the leader of the pack it is imperative that you lead by example. The only way to create the business image you want is to live it.

2. Selflessness

In an interview with Slam Online in 2010, Roy said:

“The biggest thing is try and make a play anytime I have the ball, I’m not thinking, I gotta score; I’m thinking, I gotta make a play. That could be a play to get to the basket and I finish myself, or draw a double team and pass it.”

In an NBA world dominated by superstar players whose team’s plays are set up for them to take the winning shots, this type of mindset is not typical. You’ve got the Kobe’s, the LeBron’s and the Melo’s, all who are great players, great shooters and like Roy, want to do what it takes for their team to win, but unlike Roy, consider the “I” as a fundamental part of the win.

When you run a business, there are times that you will be in the spotlight and there are other times that your best role is to be backstage. This requires a type of selflessness and commitment that is focused on the bigger cause — the good of the organization — and not your own stardom.

3. Court Vision

Roy, like many of the best players, has a certain amount of clairvoyance and foresight when he is out on the court. It’s the skill that makes him one of the best equipped at finding teammates or getting his own shot, depending on the situation. When people talk about ‘natural ability’ this is a key part of it. It is a ‘talent’ that simply can’t be taught.

There are a variety of reasons some businesses fail and some survive. Poor planning, bad timing, financial distress are some. All of these things can be avoided when led by an entrepreneur who has a keen sense of vision and good intuition.

Roy has been forced to make the best of a team cursed by injuries (his own included) and was able to do so by possessing a fantastic combination of game knowledge and instinct.  You can — and should — do the same with your business.

4. Excellence

In the end, the foundation of success is excellence in what you do. In his first year, Roy averaged 16.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists en route to winning the Rookie of the Year award.

For an encore, he averaged 19.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists in his second season. Like a fine wine, Roy has gotten better with age. During his third season, he averaged 22.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists. Although hampered with injuries, he has continued to produce outstanding numbers.

Does your business display this type of excellence? Would you win Rookie of the Year? Do you get better with age?

Pamela Wilson

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7 thoughts on “4 Simple Ways to Run Your Business like an NBA Team Captain”

  1. While I confess to not being a big B-Ball fan, I can appreciate the insights you’ve offered. I have been dragged into College Ball fandom by my zealous Badger husband. One thing that I’ve learned about Bo Ryan (their head coach) that I really appreciate. He looks for solid players who will stay all four years, not necessarily super stars. His theory (which seems to be working) is that that extra year together can give the team a strong edge and they are less likely to fall into the “I” trap you’ve mentioned above.

  2. I’m a huge fan of the Badgers, became a bigger fan after they beat Ohio State…ending their undefeated season! But I digress….

    Your point is smack on, basketball is a sport where it is very easy to rely on the superstars, but focusing on team play will normally create a deeper and more consistent team, plus all your eggs aren’t in one basket. The Celtic are a great example of this in the NBA, the Nuggets are attempting it….every business can benefit from that perspective, from not only a marketing standpoint, but from an operations and investor relations position as well

  3. I don’t know the first thing about B-ball, but I really enjoyed this article. Especially about how what we do & say professionally and personally reflects back to our business. One of our values for the company is to operate with excellence and I can’t tell that to others- I have to consistently show it-in the little things as well. Sometimes I’m mocked for the tight line I walk but I keep thinking that if I take a shortcut anywhere then those who see it will assume I do so in other ways and my integrity & that of the company are questioned.

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