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Inside the Club: Manage Like an NBA Coach


Picture 1Yesterday I gave my dear mother a call just to touch base and see how she was doing. My mom works for one of the bigger insurance providers in the country as a nursing consultant — not her exact title, but you get the point.

She manages a handful of nurses throughout her region that consult patients of all levels that are enrolled by her insurance company. Due to the growth of Club Solutions Magazine, and promotions of her role over the past several years, we spend a lot of time discussing management.

Yesterday our conversation wasn’t any different, but instead of discussing managing our teams, we ended up discussing management in terms of an NBA coach. Of course you should understand, the NBA coach managing his players was simply a metaphor for how one should manage their own team — but you already could see that.

We got on the discussion based on Rick Pitino’s new book, “The One-Day Contract.” Pitino, as you might know, was the head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky, my alma mater; he left for the head coach position with the Boston Celtics and then took his current job with the University of Louisville.

Over the years, Pitino has made news for a multitude of reasons, but as a Kentuckian, he has been on my radar for as long as I can remember. I’ve watched him win multiple NCAA Championships, with multiple teams, and even watched him struggle as an NBA coach. This struggle was the basis of my mother’s conversation and mine.

We’ve continually discussed why head coaches in the college ranks don’t usually pan out in the NBA. Many believe it’s the form in motivation. In college we see coaches yelling at players up and down the court. Over the years we have even seen them become physical in their “motivation.” I derive at a chuckle when I begin to think of Eric Spoelestra, the head coach of the Miami Heat, attempting to physically motivate LeBron James.

NBA coaches must manage players similarly to how you manage your staff. In college you can motivate players in a multitude of ways. However, in the real world, we are all professionals on some level. No, we may not all be picked for the all-star team, but we all play crucial roles in the success of our teams. As managers it’s important that you see all of your players’ weaknesses and strengths. If you are unable to see those, you will struggle to empower individuals to the best of their abilities.

My contention on why the Miami Heat dominate the NBA has nothing to do with the individual talent. However, it has more to do with how Spoelestra has assisted in molding the talent and assigning roles. People see the high-flying dunks of James, but they don’t realize that it all started with a rebound by Chris Bosh, who passed up the court to Dwyane Wade, who then did the miraculous pass that allowed James to slam the ball into the basketball hoop.

Without that first player, the dunk never occurs. In your own business, are you aware that everyone plays a certain role, and are you able to empower that person to perform that role to the best of his or her ability?

In 2014 start looking at your own role as a coach. Don’t continually harp on team members because they aren’t doing something properly. Stop and think about your own position within the equation. Do you have that person in the right position to succeed? Have you placed responsibilities on them that aren’t within their role expertise?

Many times we harp on a team member because they aren’t an all star. However, not every employee is going to be an all star. Some are strictly role players designed to help your company move the ball down the court. As a manager, it’s up to you to be able to see the difference and utilize each time for maximum potential.


Tyler Montgomery is the editor of Club Solutions Magazine. Contact him at tyler@clubsolutionsmagazine.com.

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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