A leadership lesson I learned from basketball

Basketball Leadership

You cannot lead effectively if you worry about yourself

This week I was playing a game of full-court basketball with my father. Unlike my Co-founder Jun Loayza, I am not good at basketball because I never really trained in the basics of dribbling, manuevering, and strategies. As a result, everytime I am point guard, I don’t do it very well.

This struck me as a bit unusual. Wikipedia explains the point guard position as, “The point guard, also known as the “1”, is the team’s floor general and the best ballhandler on the team. In football terminology, the point guard is a basketball team’s “quarterback.” The point guard is essentially the team’s captain, and his job is to make his teammates better and to hand out assists.”

Growing up, my talents have usually been around strategizing, analyzing, coordinating, and bringing out the potentials of people. I led and coached a state champion chess team, and I’m usually the calm guy who is more emotionally stable in tough situations. In essense, I seem to be built to be a good point guard.

But I’m just not a good point guard.

Why? It’s because I suck at basketball so much that I end up worrying about my own stuff.

I’m alway afraid that someone will steal my ball. I’m thinking about dribbling instead of doing it naturally. I’m thinking about “what should I do next? What should I do next?”

As a result, I am unable to 100% focus on my teammates, which is what a leader should do.

If you are a leader, you should:

1. Make sure you know/do your stuff well enough that you don’t have to constantly be pinned down by your own stuff
2. You must put the team before all your personal welfare. You must elevate from taking care of yourself to taking care of the people you are leading. Leadership requires sacrifice (and followers sacrifice for great leaders too)
3. You must seize every opportunity to bring the best out of people. Your job is not to be the shark that shines in your ecosystem but to be the ocean that contains and nurtures all the sharks that will shine for you.

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