A leader we can learn from

Steve Kerr

The Golden State Warriors won the championship of the National Basketball Association this week. The team is led by an experienced basketball man – as a player, general manager and television commentator – but a rookie coach. Steve Kerr, in his first coaching assignment, took on a different style of leadership than those he played under or worked with, and certainly different from most of what we imagine a “head coach” to be. And he achieved not only something that is difficult but rare – guiding his team into winning a championship his first time ever as a coach.

Kerr, profiled this week in the Washington Post, didn’t consider himself to be the most important person on the Warriors’ squad. Perhaps recognizing that many NBA players view themselves as bigger than the game itself (and possibly acknowledging his own inexperience), he recruited the best assistants he could find, and dealt with the players in a deferential manner. From Jena McGregor’s profile, Kerr is

a coach who is humble, detailed and curious about the world. He gives his players opportunities, asks for their input and tries to keep the joy of the game. Most of all, his character, which has been at least partly formed by personal tragedy, remains calm under pressure yet still fiercely competitive.

The two things that jump out at me in her description are

  • he puts fun and joy into the game, and
  • he gives the players ownership and responsibility.

Nobody wants to work for a boss (or coach) who barks orders and directives and demands obedience. Everybody wants to think they have something to contribute, and wants to feel valued. Most of all, if it isn’t fun, why do it?

We can translate Kerr’s coaching style into the experience we build for our Scouts.

  • Are you, as an adult leader, directing the Scouts? Are you telling the youth leaders what to do? Are you expecting perfection and hard work out of the boys?
  • Or are you keeping the fun in the game of Scouting? Giving your Scouts gentle coaching while making sure their input is what matters? Leaving management and leadership decisions up to the youth leaders?

Keep in mind that it’s their troop, not yours, and that you are there to help them learn how to run it – and make sure they have some fun along the way.

Image: Getty Images


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