These 6 Values Help Top NBA Teams Win


Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors and Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs are two of the best coaches in the NBA. While a number of factors make them successful, a key trait they share is a values-based leadership approach.

Since Kerr began coaching the Warriors in 2014, he built the team’s culture around four leadership values: joy, mindfulness, compassion and competition. These values have become part of the Warriors’ DNA. Take joy, for example—Steph Curry dances after three-pointers, Draymond Green emotes after every big defensive play, and Klay Thompson is consistently considered the NBA’s most popular player.

Over in San Antonio, Popovich is known for developing character in his players, which in his mind, includes a sense of humor. He explained in 2015, “Having a sense of humor is huge to me and to our staff because I think if people can’t be self-deprecating or laugh at themselves or enjoy a funny situation, they have a hard time giving themselves to the group.”

Popovich also asks, “Has he gotten over himself?” The answer helps the coaching staff measure a player’s work ethic, ability to listen and selflessness.

Let’s Practice: Define Your Values

Joy, mindfulness, compassion, competition, a sense of humor, and humility. The same values that guide two of the most successful NBA coaches can also help business leaders inspire their teams. Start developing your own list of leadership values by reviewing the following questions:

  • What are five values that are important to you?

  • Which values guide the way you work?

  • What are the common traits and behaviors of your favorite colleagues?

  • Which traits and behaviors in colleagues frustrate you?

  • What makes you proud to work at your organization?

If you feel comfortable, complete this exercise with a colleague or friend and compare notes. Do your values align with your organization’s? If not, how can you start a discussion with your manager or team to bring these values to the forefront of your work?