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5 Lessons CEOs Can Learn From Basketball’s Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors, led by reigning MVP Steph Curry, are on pace to break Michael Jordan’s Bulls record of 72 wins in a season. When looking at their rosters it seems hard to believe, and as good as Curry is, he is no MJ yet. This begs the question, how are they doing it?

Being successful in sports, in business and in life, requires many of the same traits. There are many correlations between how a business leader runs their company, how a general manager run their sports team, and how an all-star point guard runs his team on the court.

Here are the top 5 lessons CEOs can learn from Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors.

1. Build your team the right way. The Warriors built a strong team the right way. They did not overspend on high-priced free agents to “get rich quick.” They built a solid foundation by drafting Steph Curry and added many other pieces by looking not just at their stats, but at their character. Business leaders can learn from this technique and bring in high quality employees by evaluating candidates’ personality traits, behavioral characteristics, and competencies during the recruiting process – not just their success metrics. Everybody wants to hire a pit bull, but team chemistry and growth potential, on the court or in the boardroom, is as important as points per game or quarterly numbers in the long term.

2. Share the ball. The Warriors lead the league in assists with 27.3 per game. Nobody likes a ball hog in sports and the same applies in the office. Management must instil a culture where employees are not pitted against each other but are rewarded for “passing the ball” and helping fellow co-workers achieve their goals. Smart business leaders implement strategies where the entire team is rewarded if the goal is met. Not only does this incentivize employees to work harder, but it helps increase morale through team building.

3. Be financially sound. At the end of the 2015 season, the Warriors chose not to resign all-star David Lee. This was a tough decision akin to giving up one of your biggest producers in business. While he would be missed, the cost would have crippled the Warriors who had other needs to fill. Business leaders need to also fight temptation to over spend on a good candidate if there is not a net benefit. A leader can see the forest through the trees and is not afraid to make the tough decisions.

4. Build a deep bench. When asked why the Warriors are so dominant, New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams said, “They’ve got two starting line-ups, there is no letdown.” The warriors have made it a priority to not only build a great starting line-up but have a bench as deep any as team in the NBA. This not only gives them fresh legs on the court every game, but if a star like Curry, Thompson, or Green gets injured, the coaching staff knows they have reliable producers like Marreese Speights, Shaun Livingston, or Andre Iguodala to step in and immediately contribute. Great companies take the same approach to their teams by being built around a mantra we like to call “ABR: Always Be Recruiting.” The best business leaders make recruiting a top priority because they understand that finding the right person takes time and if a replacement is needed on short notice – they are ready.

5. Create a culture of winning and be an employer of choice. As reigning NBA champions and one of the favorites to repeat, what player wouldn’t want to play for the Warriors? In business, the same goes – winning businesses attract ‘winning’ employees. Business leaders who want to attract great talent must present their company as an ‘employer of choice’ where great people come to achieve their professional and personal goals.


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