Leadership. Starting with the last perfect college basketball team…

I am, and have been an IU Athletics fan for many years. This year is special, in that it is the 40th anniversary of the perfect team. The 1976 Indiana Hoosiers. The highlight of that team for me, was a fast break. It was early in the season and the ball was stolen by Quinn Buckner. It was passed to Bobby Wilkerson, then Scott May and then back to Wilkerson for a layup. The thing is, the ball never touched the floor. There was no dribble just precision passing. To me that remains a perfect team. Also, the last team to go undefeated and win the NCAA championship in Basketball.

Team is an interesting concept. No matter what teams are hard to build. They don’t come together and then taken apart recreate themselves quickly. You can’t pour water and reconstitute a team. You build a team carefully. As much in how you pick the members as anything else. You see, you need various pieces in order to build a great team.

One of the concepts of OHI that doesn’t get much air play is the feelings a team has towards a manager. Its often discarded but it should be something upper management keys on. Why? Because the health of an organization is dependent on those front line managers. A manager who promises and doesn’t deliver or one who listens to rumors and acts on rumors has to be removed. Or retrained, you can take them and train them but either way you have to do something.

You see teams are really living creatures. You have to have the right pieces and while it certainly critical to have managers, the most important aspect of team is a leader. I know for many years at Microsoft that I annoyed my manager because my leader wasn’t him or her. Leadership is the ultimate team creation tool. But leadership comes into three flavors and they aren’t talked about. Those three flavors are game changers when it comes to team building.

Let’s talk instead about what good leaders do. The first and potentially most important thing a good leader does is ignore rumors. If it isn’t substantiated then walk away. Rumors are a tool of people playing politics. Leaders rise above and don’t care about politics. One leader I respected and frankly would follow today if he weren’t retired used to say just do the right things. Its more important to do things the right way, then it is to be right.

Great leaders do:

  • Focus on the right things to do
  • Listen to people
  • Ignore rumors
  • Base judgment on the actions of people
  • Look for the good in others
  • Find the good in others

Such a simple list. But frankly one that isn’t measured by OHI. Effectively one that is measured by not the political view of the person but the more important reality of the person. Do they succeed at what they are trying to do. Do other’s seek their advice and ask them to support concepts and ideas. Jealousy and politics ruin careers. OHI doesn’t measure either. So in the end you don’t measure leadership in an OHI survey. You measure how effective managers are in hiding reality.

People derided Coach Knight at the end of his career at Indiana University. They based on a few public actions made a decision. The public runs on rumors. Other than the few people that hated playing for Coach, most of his players are loyal to him to this day. He helped boys become men. He helped men become human beings. Knight took care of his players long after they left Indiana University. That is what great leaders do.

Rumors reflect as much on the leader as they do the person in the rumor.