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Lessons in Business Leadership From the NBA Finals What entrepreneurs can learn from basketball stars about winning leadership styles.

By Trevor Turnbull Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Great leaders usually don't just fall into their success. Entrepreneurs and business owners must acquire and develop over time the skills necessary to guide his or her team in the right direction.

Yet, not all leaders are cut from the same cloth. Entrepreneurs, like basketball stars, can exhibit a wide variety of leadership qualities and tendencies. The two star players in the 2013 NBA Finals -- Miami Heat forward LeBron James and San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan -- have exercised opposite approaches to leading their respective teams. Regardless of their leadership "type," both players have reached high levels of success during their careers.

Below are three ways that you can lead your business and obtain similar high-end results.

1. Be charismatic.
Ten-year NBA veteran LeBron James has displayed an outspoken persona at times throughout his career. During halftime of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers, James gathered his teammates and delivered an animated speech. His message was to remind his teammates that they need to play with a sense of urgency and not simply rely on their talent. The Heat then rallied from a four-point halftime deficit to an 11-point victory.

As a charismatic leader, you can infuse a level of energy and enthusiasm into your business to motivate your team. However, a charismatic leader should not lose sight of his teammates contributions. Engaging with your team and believing in your own people can be essential to driving the company forward.

Related: Richard Branson on Self-Awareness for Leadership Growth

2. Be calm, yet assertive.
Outbursts and rah-rah speeches are not in Tim Duncan's tool bag of motivational techniques. Rather, the 37-year-old meets his team's expectations on a day-to-day basis without the verbal component. Through his lead-by-example demeanor, Duncan inspires his teammates to live up to their fullest potential.

Entrepreneurs can quietly instill confidence in their employees without wearing their emotion on their sleeve. By exuding a calm demeanor during times of success and a level headed approach during times of distress and hardship, business leaders can confidently ensure their employees that the business can handle the ups and downs that are bound to happen.

3. Encourage others to be leaders, too.
Drafted first overall in the 1997 NBA draft, Duncan became the San Antonio Spurs' de facto leader following David Robinson's departure in 2003. Through the additions of point guard Tony Parker and shooting guard Manu Ginoboli, the Spurs have been as consistent as any NBA team over the past decade, winning four titles since 1999. The San Antonio Spurs have empowered the supporting cast surrounding Duncan to lead together as a group.

With a democratic approach, multiple leaders can play an integral role in the decision-making process and success of a business. Encourage teamwork and value group contributions in the decision making process. This approach can increase employee satisfaction by empowering many leaders with the ability to affect the financial success of a business.

Related: NHL Playoffs: Lessons in Building a Winning Sales Team

Trevor Turnbull

Co-Founder, Online Reputation Strategist & Podcast Host at

Vancouver, Canada-based Trevor Turnbull is COO of sports news site Sports Networker and the Sports Executives Association, where he manages content production, social marketing and community development.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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