A Leadership Lesson From The Brooklyn Nets
At the Barclays Center last Thursday, the Brooklyn Nets introduced three of their latest additions, former Boston Celtics Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. It was a basketball event, but taught an important leadership lesson in the process.
The three stars, all past their prime, were acquired by Brooklyn in a trade that sent three first round draft picks back to the Celtics. That’s a lot of future talent to give up in exchange for a group of players at the end of their careers, especially considering the 37-year-old Garnett missed chunk of last season due to injuries.
But for the Nets, it was a risk worth taking. Their previous season ended with a playoff loss to the Chicago Bulls, a middling team without their injured superstar, Derrick Rose. The Bulls won the series because they cared more. They played with heart while the Nets, the more talented team, simply showed up.
This explains the addition of Garnett, one of the meanest players in the NBA. He may be old, but brings an attitude that changes the people around him. The Nets acquired him for his passion as much his skill. They could not afford to be a listless group of talented folks any longer.
“I think KG is a guy who comes with a lot of emotion, he plays the game at a high level and so he definitely changes the culture here,” said Jason Kidd, the Nets incoming coach. When asked if the Nets were lacking heart last season, Kidd simply said, “I really can’t remember last year, adding: “Whatever they were missing last year, hopefully we have it this year.”
Jason Terry was more direct. “They just didn’t have that veteran leadership from a guy like a Kevin,” he said of last year’s Nets. “What he brings every night to the game, his intensity level, guys are going to want to step up and want to play for him.”
It’s a simple but a valuable lesson for anyone in the workplace: Talent can get you to a certain point, but without passion, you’ll get stuck. A team of talented people can do good work, but the best teams bring something more.
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