Is this the secret?

Anthony Landale

Anthony Landale

This isn’t a new story but it’s one worth recalling. It’s all about what makes great coaches great – and in this context I’m suggesting coach also means leader.

The story comes out of the US and concerns Red Auerbach, who coached the basketball team the Boston Celtics to nine championships (think Alex Ferguson here if it helps).

The story goes that Auerbach and some fellow coaches were on TV being asked all about their great careers but the interviewer was curious. They seemed to be doing what everyone else was doing so what was the magic ingredient? None of them had an answer. The silence grew until Auerbach, chomping even more furiously on his famous cigar blurted out: “You just gotta’ love the bastards!”

The secret was out. But love? Really?

You can make your own interpretation here but I believe that what Auerbach was really getting at is that when you care deeply about the people you are leading, and when they know that, they then perform at a startling level. They do this because feel they belong. Because they feel anything is possible. Because this is the way they return their love.

And how do you know whether you’ve got the right balance of loving and leadership? Auerbach knew the answer to this. He said, “You know it when many years later your players are still calling you back to tell you about their families, their careers and their lives.”

Leadership nudge:
How much do you show your people you care about them? What might happen if you did?

By Anthony Landale

Learn more about Anthony Landale, the author of this article.

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