3 Critical Aspects Of A Winning Culture
After watching the San Antonio Spurs win yet another NBA title, I find myself completely amazed at their sustained success. This is a huge admission for me considering the fact that I’m a lifelong Los Angeles Lakers fan. Since being hired as the head coach of the Spurs in 1996, Gregg Popovich has led his teams to five NBA titles — due in large part to his coaching, a core of talented players, and of course a culture of winning and excellence.
I am a big fan of basketball but an even bigger fan of winning cultures. Business books love to brag about and dissect the cultures at companies like Zappos, Southwest Airlines, The Ritz Carlton and Nordstrom.
I also enjoy examining the culture of successful sports teams. Franchises that come to mind across many sports are the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and the St. Louis Cardinals. All teams that have managed to make prolonged success look easy. Here are three things about these winning cultures that we should emulate in our organizations and teams.
1. No One Person Is Greater Than The Team
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobilli — three players who have been All Stars, MVPs and will most certainly be Hall of Famers by the time their careers are complete. Tim Duncan is already in the conversation as one of the greatest power forwards to play the game, yet when you watch the Spurs play, they play as a team and win as a team. If you are a fan of flashy star players, you probably won’t enjoy the Spurs. If you are a fan of teamwork and winning, you most certainly will.
I am amazed at how little drama comes from the Spurs franchise in comparison to other teams and star athletes. It’s no wonder that they continue to be the class of the NBA.
2. Gain Much From Winning. Gain More From Losing
A year ago, the Spurs lost to the Heat in a brutal seven game series. Having watched that series, I still think the Spurs were the better team. When they had a chance to rematch against virtually the same Heat team, the series really wasn’t even close.
Without knowing any details about the inner-workings of the organization, I can say for certain that this is a product of terrific coaching, planning and teamwork. A weaker group of people might have blown up after losing in this way, but an organization that can find a way to learn and improve will most certainly be stronger.
3. Stability Breeds Sustained Greatness
Tim Duncan was drafted by the Spurs in 1997, playing his entire career for one organization. The trio of Duncan, Parker and Ginobilli has been together for twelve years. In a world of huge contracts and players taking their talents elsewhere, this team has miraculously stayed together. It has allowed the Spurs to bring in other players who always seem to flourish alongside this trio.
For a team to remain intact for this long, the members are most certainly engaged in their work and this engagement breeds the stability that is necessary for sustained success within the organization.
These are just some of my observations of a winning organization like the San Antonio Spurs. What are some of your favorite characteristics of the cultures in winning organizations?