Phil Jackson and Servant Leadership in Coaching

In The Way of Adventure, Jeff Salz writes about his adventure travels throughout the world and the lessons that he learned and conveys to companies through his public speaking engagements. In one chapter, he talks about Servant Leadership and growing invisible as a leader:

Leaders of successful expeditions gradually stop taking the lead and start sharing both responsibility and credit. Having given their best effort and having faith in the overall process, they gradually melt into the group so that a newcomer might not spot the leader right away.

People often criticize Phil Jackson, saying that Kobe Bryant is really the coach of the Lakers and Jackson does not really do anything. Before Rick Adelman was let go in Sacramento, people said the same things: Adelman did not stalk the sidelines and bark orders all game, so people believed that he was not coaching.

Coaches like Adelman and Jackson trust the process. They teach and prepare players during practice and trust the process during games. They empower their players and allow players to play through mistakes.

Lao-tzu, the Chinese philosopher-sage of the sixth century B.C., described a leader who is acclaimed by the public as being not so good. A good leader is one who people hardly know exists. According to Lao-tzu, under the guidance of a great leader, when the job is done, people say only, “We did this ourselves.”

Sounds like Jackson, Adelman, Jerry Sloan and some others.

By Brian McCormick
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League

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