As one of the most well known coaches in NBA history, Phil Jackson has solidified his legendary status through 13 total championships won as both a coach and player. Between the years of 1987 and 1998, Jackson coached the Chicago Bulls with NBA legend Michael Jordan, going on to win 6 total titles with this formidable team. Aside from Jordan, the Bulls boasted a number of legendary names under Jackson’s tenure like Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and John Paxson.
In his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, he served as head coach to Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’neal, and Derek Fisher; another team he would eventually win 5 total championships with. So, how was Jackson able to serve as a leader with so many talented (and somewhat ego-driven) players on his rosters?
Phil Jackson coached some of the greatest NBA players in the history of the sport. One enormous takeaway from this is that he was never intimidated or deterred by that fact. Rather than allowing them to lead the team and coach others, he showed them how to be even better. Great leaders are those who are not afraid to take on the toughest challenges and approach them with confidence. Jackson was able to build a successful supporting cast around players like Jordan and Bryant, allowing them to grow and play as a team.
While his coaching tactics have been proven time and time again, Jackson allowed his players to believe in themselves and operate as a team without his supervision at times. As many basketball coaches understand, being too strict of a mentor will only lead to tension and miscommunication on the court. Allowing your players to perform how they want to from time to time builds a much stronger relationship between yourself and them. Jackson taught his teams how to effectively play for long periods of time without having the whistle blown, forcing them to work as a team. He inspired them to act as leaders themselves.
Develop a Culture
With both the Bulls and Lakers, Phil Jackson created a ‘winning culture’ in which his players expected to be great. In order to effectively build this mindset, Jackson had to strategize and encourage his players to believe in themselves, as well as him having to believe in them. He was able to focus more on the chemistry of the team rather than signing the best players in the world. He saw what formations meshed the best, and which were less effective on the court. Through this, he trusted his players to reach their fullest potentials, thus creating a healthy culture that expected to win games over and over.
Phil Jackson is a great example of a leader who bred leaders. His coaching abilities led to not only numerous championship titles, but to the enormous success of those who played under him.