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Thanks for allowing us a couple months' hiatus from "Fresh Milk". We've been working hard on our new book, Rebooting Leadership. Look for it in the 2nd quarter of 2010.

By Bill Catlette

Coaching and managing high performers is a joy, but it is not altogether easy.

For four years in the early 90's I had the privilege of coaching a boys' high school recreation league basketball team. Use of the word, "privilege" is not hyperbole. These kids were wonderful human beings, a real credit to their parents, and it just so happened, exceptional athletes as well. In four seasons, in a very competitive Memphis-area league, our team amassed a 50-5 record in league play. Rest assured that the record had far more to do with athletic ability than coaching acumen.

That said, I was reminded last night, at the Memphis Grizzlies vs. Cleveland Cavaliers NBA game, of one of the lessons our little team had to learn the hard way, a lesson about the importance of being careful to respect both your teammates and competitors.

Cavaliers uber-star, LeBron James spent much of the pre-game warmup period showboating with circus shots for fans and a local TV crew. Unbeknownst to LeBron, fans weren't the only ones watching. Several Grizzly players silently took it all in as well.

As the game played out, the superior Cavaliers team took an eleven point first half lead. Something happened at halftime though, as a very determined (mad?) Grizzlies team emerged from the locker room. With grit and determination, they clawed their way back to even the game by the end of regulation play. Watching Grizzlies reserve center, Hamed Haddadi's thunderous two-handed dunk over Shaquille O'Neal late in the game, I wondered aloud if Grizz coach, Lionel Hollins had lit the team up at half time. The guy seated next to me cleared it up. "Nope, LeBron did it in pre-game warmups, and they've finally hit the boiling point."

Oh, LeBron got his points, 43 of 'em to be exact. But his team got the same thing my team did in 1993 when several of our players had dissed our competitors prior to a game. They got beat.

Don't get me wrong. LeBron seems to be a fine young man, and I have no doubt whatsoever that he will go on to have a magnificent career, put lots of fannies in seats, and be a credit to the game. Yet, if his team, and, more to the point, our teams are to win the ultimate prize, we must exercise considerable skill in coaching our players, especially the stars, about some of the finer points of the game, like...

1. Keeping the main thing the main thing - Helping them understand (really get it) that Individual performances are necessary and desirable, but, in team efforts of any ilk, the main thing is for the team to win, period.

2. Never, ever disrespecting teammates or competitors - As the Cavaliers learned last night, the only thing more dangerous than a better armed competitor is one that is motivated by public humiliation or disrespect. There is never a good enough reason or need to go there. Don't do it.

3. Adhering to a Higher Standard - Whether in sports or business, on any team there are talented players who become the on-court leaders. Acceptance of that role comes with a price - higher expectations. More specifically, it means setting the example for others to follow, and subordinating self interest for the greater good. It means practicing your layups and free throws during pre-game warmups whether you need the practice or not.

4. Be the Crowd for Your Team (aka, Don't underestimate the power of recognition) - I'm constantly challenging executive coaching clients as to whether or not they are sufficiently and satisfactorily thanking and recognizing people in their organization. It is an extremely powerful motivator. As Cleveland Cavaliers Coach, Mike Brown lamented after last night's game, "They (the Grizzlies) got up in us defensively in the second half. When they did that, we had some bad turnovers that gave them easy dunks in transition. When you give up those types of dunks, you're going to ignite a crowd. When the crowd gets going, it's going to give you confidence as a team, and that's what happened." Nuff said.

Make it a great week!

No company can perform well in a still-shaky economy without the full and willing engagement of a focused, fired-up, and capably led workforce.

If you want to learn how to turn your workforce into a powerful competitive weapon, invite Bill Catlette or Richard Hadden in to speak or conduct leadership training for your organization, or to keynote your association's next convention. Contact Bill (901- 853-9646) or Richard (904-720-0870), and let's talk about how we can make your next meeting a colossal success! Learn about our topics

We administer employee satisfaction surveys, and analyze, interpret, and present the results to your leadership team.

Especially in times like these, no organization can afford to operate without a functioning scoreboard.

Our turnkey process provides a valuable and affordable way for you to measure your organization's effectiveness in the view of those who fuel your business with their effort, labor, and commitment.

Visit us online, or simply contact us, to learn more about our survey process and how it can help you hit the bullseye with your people practices.

Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette
Contented Cow Partners, LLC

phone: 904-720-0870
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