Deep Bench #2

Click here for Part 1.

Game 1 of the NBA Finals is over. Good game by both Durant and Lebron. And the benches of both teams contributed a lot as well – Chalmers and Haslem, Sefalosha and Fisher. OKC’s bench outscored Miami’s, which became one of the factors toward their win.

Yesterday, I started a blog on how to get a deep bench, and as the Finals is showing, a deep bench makes for winning teams. Here’s the continuation of that blog:

3. Encourage them to develop their strengths.

Every new leader will learn from you, but will not do everything like you either. One of the beauties of a deep bench is the variety of skills that people bring in to enrich the whole team. This is not a threat! Disunity, rebellion, gossip, deception, laziness – these are threats to the team. Difference is not.

Sameness is not a requirement for having unity. In fact, one of my favorite things about the people I work with is seeing how different they are and how their strengths cover my weaknesses. Some leaders make the mistake of automatically recruiting like-minded, like-background, or like-perspective teammates. This isn’t a barkada; it’s a team! You need to work. Amazingly though, when the team is healthy, it can become like a barkada in closeness. Let them run in their strengths. Let them be their own different and weird selves. It makes the whole stronger.

Some of the quirky, strange people I get to work with. Good thing too

4. Develop strong relationships.

You don’t have to be close – knowing each other’s secrets, having secret handshakes, calling each other BFFs – to work together. But if you want to work together effectively, you’ll need to get to know each other better. Most of the people I work with now aren’t exactly childhood playmates, but through the months and years of working together, we’ve become good friends.

I once asked one of my mentors, Pastor Manny Carlos how he developed such strong relationships that ran beyond work and into family and personal life. His network included a lot of great leaders, like my dad, whose strong respect for each other is apparent on every meeting. He said, in his distinctive way, “We do battle together, Joe.” I must’ve looked really confused because he continued, “We pray for each other. We support each other. When one of our family members is sick, we’re there. When someone’s got issues in life, we don’t kick them to the curb. We walk them out of it. It’s not so much a team building gimmick. It’s more a lifestyle of being there for each other. It makes work light.”

5. Grow yourself.

John Maxwell once said something about how our ability to attract skillful, committed people is proportional to our own skill and commitment. If you’re a level 8 leader, you’ll get teammates who are 7’s and below, etc. (I’m not referring to their value as human beings, but what they bring to the working team.) So maybe the best thing we can do to getting better leaders is to become a better leader.

Good people aren’t laying around doing nothing. They’re busy doing stuff they care about. To get them, we need to attract them. What attracts good leaders? Better leaders. I used to begrudge the teams I’d watch other people form, especially when I’d want the same thing and couldn’t get it. I’d make a pitch to people to work with us who wouldn’t be interested. Then I remembered that John Maxwell quote. I was dreaming if I thought these quality men and women would want to work with me. (They have their own call from God also.)

From that point on, I tried to improve as a leader. Good thing I had men and women in my life to help me with that. “You’re too snobbish. You don’t seem to care. Stop interrupting. Don’t roll your eyes. Build with the others. Don’t say things like that anymore. Pray, pray, pray.” God’s got the team you’ll work with. We can only be faithful where we are now and trust Him for results.

6. Grow your team.

So maybe our future team will be great. Like the 1992 Dream Team which is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this year. (Wow, that was 20 years ago. Bird-Johnson-Malone-O’Neal-Robinson – Now that makes me feel old.) But what about the one we have now?

Much more talent and dominance than this season's entire playoffs

Well, we can always grow them. So many leaders are waiting to be discovered by people who believe in them and won’t give up on them. If we’re looking for set of perfectly skilled demigods to descend from Olympus to join your cause, that’s gonna be a long wait. But if we can look around us at the men and women (or boys and girls) within our reach, and if we’re willing to serve them and invest in them, you could very well have your Dream Team in a few years.

So those are some ideas on how to get your own deep bench. Is your cause worth it?

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