Copy of Top-Down Leadership_My thoughts for today’s post come from the book Leaders Eat Last, by Simon Sinek.

Simon Sinek has the most watched TEDTalk of all time on TED.com.  His very popular book Start With Why, is worth the read.  However, I have been enjoying Leaders Eat Last much more.

As a coach, you need to know everyone in your organization personally.  The responsibility for the care of your players and staff fall to you and their care should be personal to you.  The winningest teams that I’ve been a part of have operated like a family.  The Coach should always see those they’re responsible for as family.  Likewise, the players will, as Sinek puts it, “express ownership of their leader.”  In other words, they will run through the proverbial wall for you.

In a Marine platoon of about forty people, for example, they will often refer to the officer as “our” lieutenant.  Whereas the more distant and less seen senior officer is simply “the” colonel. – page 114, Leaders Eat Last

When the formal hierarchy of top-down leadership exists in your program, you have deliberately established a coach-led team.  What happens when the top leader is wrong?  Everyone below that leader becomes wrong as well.  The leader atop the hierarchy has the authority, but not much real-time information.  Those at the bottom, Sinek says, “have all the information and none of the authority.”

I think many basketball programs have trained people to comply, but not to think.  If your team consists of players who only comply, you will find that they are hesitant to take responsibility for their actions; it will simply be, “the coach’s fault.”  Remember, there is a difference between obedience and responsibility.  A player-led program will be accountable for each individual’s actions, yet value holding each other responsible for the team’s performance.

In physics, power is defined by the transference of energy.  Personally, I believe championship programs have energy (power) transferred from the top to those who are actually occupying the lockers in your locker room.  The more powerful your locker room, the more powerful (energetic) you will become as the leader.

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