Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs basketball team, appears to be just another example of a grumpy, old man. He’s not. According to Daniel Coyle in his recently released book The Culture Code, Pop is nothing like the tough s.o.b persona we so often see portrayed during interviews. And, boy does he win. In the last twenty years no professional sports team has won more games when they were not the favorite on the Vegas betting line. In fact, no team is even close. Pop’s secret?
Tough and tender – love the team, love the work.
Turns out Pop is a love cat. His go to expression is food, wine, and fellowship. He loves good food, good wine, and getting close to his players and their loved ones. He doesn’t take the team out for dinner to get them drunk and distracted. He loves getting to know them. He takes them to dinner to be with them. And as they enjoy good food and good wine, he’s figuring each of them out and figuring out how to get their heart in their work. This is another classic example of the BTL belief around leaders. The transformational ones do this, not once in awhile, not as a discipline, not because it’s expected, scheduled, or some other kinda obligation. Transformational leaders understand that the team wants to belong. We all want to know we belong, at least somewhere. Transformational leaders figure out their favorite way of “being with” to create a culture of belonging. Pop does it with food, wine, and fellowship.
What, leader, is your secret sauce for creating a culture of belonging within your tribe? It’s your job to carry the culture key, leader. When we visit your practice facility would we feel like we’ve entered a high performance family oozing with truth in love, demanding excellence, tough and tender, real and raw? Or would we get a sense of false harmony, buried resentment, and people on their heels kinda hiding in fear?
Most teams, today, look good when the camera’s are on. They talk a good game. Their leader looks the part. Most of these teams have bought the false harmony pill. Good teams, just like good families require tough and tender leadership. They don’t always look so good. They take on hard topics and sometimes people’s feelings are hurt. These teams have learned the truth will set you free, but it hurts like hell along the way. Fact.
Forget looking good. Be good instead. False harmony, as the name implies, is fake. Get real, leader. Tough and tender. Love the work. Love the team. Food, wine, and fellowship (or whatever fits your love to’s). I’ve never really liked the Spurs, truth be told.
Sure is good to know that Pop loves ‘em…