Basketball Illuminates the Individual v Team Leadership Rift

I first learned about the importance of self-awareness, supporting the success of others, and the fine balance between individual leadership and team performance from a guy named Guy. A Texan, Guy Clumpner pushed all of my buttons initially -- perhaps he was telling me more about myself than I wanted to hear at the time -- but the work he, and others, had done transforming team cultures in San Antonio was illuminating. Guy works for the original Caterpillar equipment dealer, Holt Caterpillar, a family-owned business. The family also owns the San Antonion Spurs.

Both teams -- Holt Caterpillar and the Spurs -- have spent an inordinate amount of time and energy focusing on the leadership lessons of Ken Blanchard and the importance of values-based leadership. This morning, NPR sports commentator Frank DeFord talked about what makes the Spurs so simultaneously exceptional and forgettable.

"In basketball, as in life, we may dutifully celebrate the aggregate, but we're always spellbound by the exceptional," says Frank Deford.

The Spurs have won four titles, and may be on their way to a fifth. They've become the fourth most successful franchise through exceptional teamwork and solid understated performances. I suspect their exposure to effective team and leadership practices has been as important as their ball-handling.