The Golden State Warriors recently set the record for most consecutive wins to start an NBA season. They are sitting at 16-0 and have had a mix of ‘walk in the park’ wins and truly epic comebacks throughout the season, and all with their head coach sidelined due to a serious back injury and his 35 year old assistant holding down the fort.
Before the recent record setting victory interim head coach, Luke Walton shared about a moment where head coach Steve Kerr briefly met with the team to provide his thoughts on how they are achieving this success. He wrote four words on a whiteboard:
These are the core values of the Golden State Warriors basketball team, and Kerr emphasised to the group how proud he was that they were achieving each one every day. This is a team of elite sportsmen, who have trained for years to be where they are, being congratulated for focusing on and delivering to the values of the organisation they are a part of and having it reinforced that this is a critical factor in their success. WOW is an understatement.
In thinking about “the value of having values” I wanted to touch on how these four in particular can have such a massive impact on success, and why I think living values such as this can be critical to the success of a business just as they have been for arguably the greatest team in sports at the moment.
The fact that the first and, as Walton confessed, most important value is Joy really shows you the importance in having fun. The ability for a person’s mindset to be affected by the negativity that comes with not working, playing or living in an enjoyable environment is huge. The toxicity that this negativity can then have on others is almost unparalleled, yet so frequently overlooked. A business is no different to a sports team in this regard. If your workplace is not a fun place to be you can guarantee employees will be disengaged and not performing at their best. Simple changes can see huge improvements in productivity and staff wellbeing, which in turn see upside to the bottom line. Having fun matters! And it is possibly one of the simplest corrections to make, for a reasonable low investment but a huge return.
Mindfulness is probably the most interesting value in this list, while not one you see often I think it is extremely important and starts in the leadership of any good team. Being self-aware and able to acknowledge how you act, react, think or respond in any situation is critical to being a good leader. Mindfulness helps you stay in control of any situation, allows your best judgement to take the lead and therefore provides your team with the greatest chance of success. In a basketball environment mindfulness could be the difference between giving away a technical foul or not. In a business environment mindfulness could be what stops you unnecessarily jumping to a conclusion or placing the blame. At an individual level the benefits of practising mindfulness are unbounding and unique to all of us, though so many overlook them. Mindfulness is most effective when used to set an example. Leaders for staff, coaches for players, parents for children, we can all take it on board as a beneficial value and activity to practice.
Is the ability to care about the other members of your team becoming a rarity? Compassion is so often defined as the moment spent caring for someone in a time of need, but it is possible to be compassionate in our day to day activities and use this as a way to support and empower those we spend time with. The Warriors compassion for one another is clear, no player goes without a helping hand if they fall during a game and a shooting slump by a team mate is met with a positive outlook at a post-game press conference. In our day to day business lives the ability to remain in tune with how our team is feeling is critical. The simplest of questions, “Are You OK?” can make a world of difference. Trying to approach situations with the thought of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes can vastly improve our ability to overcome issues or challenges. Compassion ties in well with Joy and as the Dalai Lama says,
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
Finally, and most fitting to the basketball environment is competition. Anyone can appreciate that the sporting arena has a need for a competitive edge, and the ability to be the best is what the elite sports men and women of the world strive for. But competition as a value takes things to another level. Everything you do is driven by a focus to be the best. It is about individual improvement, which leads to team improvement, which leads to organisational success. Along the way you compete against yourself, your teammates and your opponents, with an ultimate goal in mind. Unfortunately competition within business is frequently the cause of more harm than good. Individuals work at besting each other with disregard for how this might actually affect the team dynamic or the business as a whole. To make competition in business successful a leader must take charge and promote healthy and effective methods by which it can take place. Driving growth and success through well-structured competitive goals has seen some massive business success throughout history and will continue to be the significant factor as the world we live in becomes even more competitive to break through.
The need to revisit our values is usually scoffed at; many organisations have a list in a business plan, sitting in a draw somewhere, which is reviewed once in a while. The Golden State Warriors have shown us that having values at the core of what you strive to achieve works. Take a moment to think about yours, or those of your business, do you live by them every day in all that you do?