Steve Kerr on Leadership

I was already a fan of Steve Kerr’s ever since reading about him in that New York Times article in December 2016.

In the NYT article, what struck me was just how empathetic and balanced of a person he was — never really thinking about revenge or blame, being able to carry on despite a devastating tragedy, etc.

Now another feature just came out on Steve Kerr, this time in Sports Illustrated, that focuses more on his leadership and people management (or leadership) skills.

What I wanted to highlight 2 key points that I caught in the many quick stories throughout the article.

1. Your approach has to reflect your identity

My favorite mini story is the one of Steve Kerr’s meeting with Pete Carroll.

For me, the biggest takeaway in the whole article is this part right here:

In the summer of 2014, Kerr spent a few days in Seattle with Carroll and the Seahawks. Recalls Kerr: “He basically told me, I’ve spent 10 years coaching to figure all this out. I got fired twice and learned a ton under Bill Walsh and then tried to formulate my coaching philosophy only to realize I didn’t really have one.” The key, Carroll finally realized: Your approach has to reflect your identity.
“Give me one of your core values,” Carroll said to Kerr.
Kerr thought for a moment. “Joy.”
“OK, joy,” said Carroll. “That has to be reflected in your practices every day.”
And on they went.

It’s important to be yourself.

When you try to be a clone of someone else people will always notice.

The real trick is to be confident enough to be yourself but that’s another story for another day.

Just know that your situation will change, your role in a company or your relationships with others will change, but if you approach things with your core set of traits or identity, people will respect you more.

2. Empathy is so important

The better your emotional intelligence, the better you will be able to get the most out of them.

Like this:

Last year, the Warriors were playing in New Orleans. As Green tells it, in the first half Steph pulled up for “some crazy shot.” Then Klay did the same thing. The lead slipped, from double digits all the way down to one, at which point Kerr called timeout. “And at that point,” says Green, “I’ve taken like one shot and have like, no turnovers. But [Steve] looks right at me and goes, ‘What the f — — is wrong with you? Get your f — — — head in the game!”
Green was shocked. Kerr was yelling at him?!?
“But he’s smart because he knows exactly what I’m going to do,” Green says. “I’m gonna get mad and then I’m going to yell at everyone else and get them going.” He pauses. “Now is that a tactic? Is it on purpose? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. It’s coaching is what it is. That’s coaching. Sometimes I sit there afterward and think, ‘Damn, that motherf — — — got me.’”
Green continues. “But he knows me. You couldn’t do that to someone else. He has a feel for it. That’s his thing. He has this feel for exactly what each player needs.”

This doesn’t just go for leadership roles, this goes for you in any relationship.

Know what the other person’s needs are and/or what they are looking for.

Know what buttons you can push and what works best.

Know that everyone has sh-t that they’re going through too and where you are on their totem pole of importance.

And know that everyone is different and won’t react to what you do the same way so you have to be extra mindful and watch how people act and react.

When you can pull the right things like a conductor you can make beautiful music.