In May 2017 Chris Ballard (no relation) wrote an article in Sports Illustrated, “No Coach, No Problem.” Ballard’s article provided insight into Kerr’s leadership style, illuminating ten characteristics of outstanding leaders.
- Respect. Great leaders earn respect and respect others. Players and other coaches respect Coach Kerr highly.
- It’s not about you. When you make a moment about you and not the team or the organization, you start to lose them. It is always about them, about those you lead. Kerr allowed Sports Illustrated only one photo of himself.
- Humility and compassion. Kerr: “The people to me who are the most powerful leaders are the ones who have great talent in whatever their field is, great conviction in their ability to teach it and act it, but an awareness and a humility and compassion for others” (p. 30)
- Nurture freedom, build trust. Coach Kerr has built a culture where players are participants willing to share ideas. It’s not “my way or the highway” but the opposite. The players trust each other and the coaches and vice versa.
- Empower. Kerr’s leadership is highly participative, not hierarchical. Regardless of minutes played, every player is part of the process, the flow, and ready to step up when called.
- Grit. Out of high school Kerr only had one scholarship to a major college basketball program. Ballard noted that as an NBA player for 15 seasons, Kerr only started 30 games. Success goes to those who persevere.
- Communicate. Kerr has conversations with players where as he puts it, he may “overcommunicate” and sometimes he writes notes to players. Players know where they stand; what they need to do to improve.
- Know your people. Warrior player Draymond Green: “He knows me . . . That’s his thing. He has this feel for exactly what each player needs” (p.32).
- Perspective: Kerr: “Take things seriously, but not yourself.”
- Live your core values: Kerr: “What I learned from all the coaches I talked to was that your entire process has to reflect your core values” (p. 34). Kerr’s core values: joy, competition, compassion, mindfulness.
Ballard, C. (2017, May 29). "No coach, no problem." Sports Illustrated, 126 (15), 28-35.
Image, “Steve Kerr,” by Keith Allison.
Retrieved from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Steve_Kerr_(16453076458)_cropped.jpg
Used with permission: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en
Modified from my blog of 6/15/2017.© John Ballard, PhD, 2022. All rights reserved.
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