4 Select Leadership Lessons from the Spurs

Whether it's playing hoops or earning business, these key practices stand out.

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By Rebekah Epstein • Jun 6, 2014 Originally published Jun 6, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Let me start off this piece with a disclaimer: I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, so I am biased in believing that the Spurs represent the best sports team out there.

Yet there is no denying the statistics: The Spurs are good at basketball. The team entered the playoff season as the No. 1 seed, and statistically, game after game the Spurs have continued to show how good they are. All of the records and high stats aren't what makes the Spurs amazing, though. What really makes the Spurs shine are things that can't be quantified.

While watching the playoffs this year, I realized that there are a lot of leadership skills that business owners can learn from the Spurs:

Related: Do You Have the Body Language of a Champion?

1. True confidence is quiet. Most people would agree that the loudest person in the room is usually the most insecure. When people are really good at something, they don't need people to constantly remind them. The Spurs do this best. Compared to other sports teams, the Spurs are pretty low-key and not flashy. They don't need multimillion dollar endorsement deals to stand out. Instead, their skills on the basketball court are all they rely on.

Business owners should be the same way, especially when leading other people. If you are truly confident, then you don't need to announce your accomplishments all the time.

Related: 5 Ways to Get More Respect at Work

2. Respect is the real definition of success. When I first started my own business, I thought that the amount in my bank account defined my success. I was way off. I think earning the respect of your peers and, most important, your competitors determines how successful you really are.

To me, Spurs forward Tim Duncan exemplifies this. Last year, in an interview with Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk, Lebron James of the Miami Heat said, "If I just look at the last 15 years, [Duncan] probably been the most consistent, most dominant player that we've had as far as 15 years all together. He's won four titles, multiple All Stars, MVP, and so on and so on." When even your biggest competitor vouches for your legacy, then you are definitely successful.

As a leader or business owner, your goal shouldn't be money. It should be earning the respect of the people in your industry because this is more challenging to earn that just money.

Related: The Art of Keeping Your Team Focused on the Same Goal

3. Teamwork matters. There is no "I" in team. This is corny, I know, but it's so very true.

Throughout this playoff season, I have seen the benefit of teamwork. Unlike other teams, the Spurs don't necessarily rely on one or two players to help them win. Instead, they work together to make it happen. A prime example of this was during Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, when point guard Tony Parker sat out. The Spurs went on to win the game, even without one of their star players.

As an entrepreneur, you need to realize that you won't get anywhere if you don't value your team. Even if you are the one with the brilliant ideas, there is no way you can execute everything alone. You have to remember that if you put aside your ego and build up your team, everyone will get further.

Related: Being Consistent Is Not the Same as Being Perfect

4. Being consistent counts. Over the years, the Spurs have received a lot of flack because they are perceived as "boring." I would disagree. I think they are seen this way because they are just consistently good at winning without needing to have all the bells and whistles.

For the 15th straight season, the Spurs have won more than 50 games. They work hard and don't need flashy tricks to win a game.

Operating your business should proceed the same way. Find what works and keep doing it over and over again. There is no point in reinventing the wheel, if you are getting the results you want.

Related: What Donald Sterling's NBA Blowup Teaches Entrepreneurs

Rebekah Epstein

Founder and Publicist, Fifteen Media

Rebekah Epstein is the founder of fifteen media, an agency that works exclusively with PR firms to streamline media relations in a digital era. She specializes in representing technology, health care, business and lifestyle companies.

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