Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

America is the nation that's perfected the ego.

Perhaps it was inevitable in a country that's so squarely (and precariously) built on individualism.

But we're so good at revering the leader and believing that they know everything about winning.

They merely grab their syringes of success and inject that winning spirit into their followers.

The really great ones, apparently, do it again and again and again.

They even seem to up the doses, so that the next success is bigger and greater and scores them a vaster bonus.

The reality, I suspect, is a touch different. 

Even science has gotten around to declaring that the most important ingredient is luck.

Is there, though, something you can do to encourage not just a single flash in the success pan but continuous flashes?

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr knows a little about continued success.

As a player with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs and now a coach with the Golden State Warriors, Kerr has bathed in more than any human's fair share of glory.

The first time might have been luck. Surely, though, he has some insight into doing it again and again.

After all, the Warriors have won three out of the past four NBA championships and were blatantly cheated out of the other one. (Disclosure: I'm a long-time Warriors fan.)

The players' innards much be bathing in that dangerous mixture of complacency and arrogance.

What can a leader do to motivate and direct them?

Kerr admitted that he would change some routines. You can't win the same just by doing the same. 

Indeed, very few teams win for long periods.

No team in modern times has reached the NBA Finals five times in a row. (The Boston Celtics on the late '50s and early '60s were the last. Actually, they went 10 times in a row. How dull.)

For a successful team, the psychological aspects aren't easy. Kerr explained: 

The motivation to get the first championship is palpable every single day during the season, and after you win a few it's harder to generate that same type of energy and enthusiasm.

What's a leader supposed to do? Bark louder? Or simply be nastier? 

I'm sure that's what a college football coach would do. So many of them are a painful exhibit in venal unpleasantness, spiced with a dollop of inhumanity.

Kerr, though, understands that being a successful leader involves knowing the limitations of leadership.

Yes, he has to tax his mind to come up with new ways of winning, but there's another important element: 

And that's where the coaching creativity comes into play, and that's when your internal (player) leadership comes into play. 

A leader is just one person, ultimately with limited powers.

There's a whole separate level and caste of leadership within a successful organization. 

It consists of those who aren't the big boss but wield a big influence.

They transmit the direction of the blowing winds. They influence those winds, too.

If they're committed to the cause, they help drive it. If they doubt it, that doubt will spread and infect the whole company.

Or they'll just write an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times.

Kerr doesn't just manage the irascible intelligence of Draymond Green, the absurdly instinctive talent of Stephen Curry, the semi-comatose joy of Klay Thompson, and the prickly Twitter habits of Kevin Durant.

He relies on them to be examples and internal leaders who help ensure that the extraordinary is never taken for granted.

Your internal leadership is just as important as yours.

Indeed, it makes yours work. 

Published on: Sep 6, 2018
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