Bob Knight, one of the winningest coaches in college basketball history, once said the game ultimately comes down to two things – simplicity and execution.
I think the worst thing teachers, coaches, and leaders can do is to complicate their teaching. And it is easy to do so. A good lesson for me in keeping it simple was when our coaching staff would draw up a new play for our team. On paper, it seemed simple. However, inevitably when we brought it to the floor, it was more complicated than we thought. We then had to tweak it immediately so the players would be more comfortable in its execution.
Pete Carril, the former greatly respected Princeton basketball coach, took simplicity to another level. He used to say you have to be good at what you do a lot. In basketball it’s dribbling, passing, and shooting. You may be spectacular at dunking. That’s great, except that you don’t do it very often in games. So, don’t spend an inordinate amount of time dunking, but do spend a great deal of time dribbling, passing, and shooting. The great ones – Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird – figured this out.
So, pause and determine what you have to do a lot as a leader. Is it speaking, listening, running meetings, strategic planning, problem solving? Whatever the main priorities are, work to get proficient at them.
You want to get good at what you do because ultimately your leadership efficiency will be judged on your execution. You have to get the job done. Leon Hillard of the Harlem Globetrotters kept execution simple when he said, “Don’t tell me; show me.” Leaders can do all the talking they want but it amounts to nothing if the organization’s plans are not executed.
Simplicity and Execution. Simplicity, all of us knowing what the plans are and all of us on the same page, leads to Execution.