13 Practices of Highly Successful Leaders

Few things are as wonderful as serving under highly successful leadership.  Highly successful leaders create environments where people can soar and reach their full potential.

The opposite is true as well.  No matter how good your products or services may be, leadership will always be the lid that keeps your organization from going to the next level.

In the April 29th edition of Sports Illustrated, San Antonio Spurs president and head coach Gregg Popovich is profiled. As we take a closer look as the man affectionately known as “Pop”, we can develop a wonderful profile of a highly successful leader.

  1. Highly Successful Leaders Are Discreet – The Spurs organization is known for their lack of drama and dealing with issues behind closed doors.
  2. Highly Successful Leaders Invest In Others – Coach Popovich frequently purchases books for others to read.
  3. Highly Successful Leaders Are Continual Learners – Leaders must have interests outside the workplace.  NBA commissioner David Stern says, “He brings an extraordinary worldview to the NBA.”
  4. Highly Successful Leaders Are Focused – Hall of Fame center David Robinson says, “If it doesn’t fit the mission Pop just doesn’t care.”
  5. Highly Successful Leaders Take Care Of Their Top Talent – For 16 years, one of Popovich’s top priorities was the health and welfare of star player Tim Duncan.  Duncan says, “Pop has always taken care of me.”
  6. Highly Successful Leaders Are Highly Competent – Popovich graduated from the Air Force Academy with a degree in Soviet studies while taking classes like advanced calculus, analytical geometry, and astronomical, electrical, and mechanical engineering.
  7. Highly Successful Leaders Start Small – Popovich’s first season as a head coach  was in 1979 at Pomona-Pitzer, a small California school, where he posted a 2-22 record.
  8. Highly Successful Leaders Are Fascinated By People – Steve Koblik says, “He is intellectually curious.  Now you combine that with basketball smarts and street smarts and add someone who’s a very good judge of people, and that makes for a very unusual person.”
  9. Highly Successful Leaders Are Consistent – It was noted that the Spurs are not the most creative team in the league.  They simply operate their system game after game, season and season, decade after decade.
  10. Highly Successful Leaders Welcome Feedback – Assistant coach Mike Budenholzer says, “The one way you will not make it here is to be a yes man.”
  11. Highly Successful Leaders Are Forgiving – It is easy to get into Popovich’s doghouse but he is also willing to forgive people as well.
  12. Highly Successful Leaders Are Relational – Popovich says, “We’re disciplined with what we do.  But that’s not enough.  Relationships with people are what it’s all about.  You have to make players realize you care about them.  And they have to care about each other and be interested in each other.  Then they start to feel a responsibility toward each other.  Then they want to do for each other.”
  13. Highly Successful Leaders Are Not Everything To Everyone – Popovich says, “I don’t know anything about innovation.  Here is my innovation:  I drafted Tim Duncan.  Okay?  End of story.”