Do You Love Me?


I am intrigued by watching coaches of successful athletic teams and what they do to motivate their players, and I believe that those of us in business can learn from their example. Current case in point is Mike D'Antoni, coach of the Houston Rockets, the best team in the NBA in the regular season.  

As a player, nobody in the NBA wanted him so Mike wound up in Italy playing for Olimpia Milano coached by Dan Peterson. Peterson quickly recognized that Mike was an exceptional player who had lost his confidence. He told him "You're my point guard. I'm never going to take you out, and if we lose, it's not your fault. it's mine." He told him to take a minimum of twelve shots per game, regardless of how many he made. "If you go 2 for 19, I won't say a word. If yougo 1 for 11, we're going to talk, because you didn't take 12." He told him to think about taking shots, not making shots. What D'Antoni learned from this experience is that confidence is the most potent performance enhancer of all.

Fast forward to today and Mike has used this same principle to motivate his Houston team. The Rockets signed Gerald Green, an unemployed Houston native that had bounced around eight teams and never been successful. Summoned late in the fourth quarter of a game he clanked three shots and hung his head. "When you miss your hundredth, I'm taking you out, so you've got 97 misses to go." D'Antoni told him. He wound up the season averaging over 12 points a game and the Rockets finished with the best record in the NBA.

Green later said "You know how your girl always says, you don't ever tell meyou love me! Baby, you know I love you!" he says, and she responds "Yeah, well, I need to hear it sometimes." Basketball players are the same way and so are your employees. They need to hear sometimes that they are loved and appreciated.

The Rockets are now tied two games to two with the Golden State Warriors for the Western Conference championship. A team with purportedly the best overall players in the NBA.

Best record versus best players. We'll soon see how this comes out, and who is loved the most.

Click on the following link to see my list of the ten principles of effective leadership and rate yourself on the "love" scale.

Top 10 Things Leaders Do Well

Tracy Bech