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-My name is Clay Clark. I'm about six foot, one and I'm joined with the seven footer, David Robinson today. The NBA Hall of Famer, David Robinson. This guy, he's been super successful as a businessman and as a player on the NBA basketball court.
Today he's going to be walking us through the step by step process of becoming an effective leader in this management training. If you own a business, chances are there's a couple people that work with you. And so now, guess what? You are a leader. And so you and I have to learn how to become an effective leader. And David is going to teach us it's not an event, it's a process. It's something we can learn, and it's something that we can do.
Remember, at Thrive15.com we believe that knowledge without application is meaningless. So as you're watching today's management training, you need to ask yourself what can you do to uniquely apply these principles in your own life and business? Otherwise, today's episode may just be more meaningless than paying for an email account.
David Robinson, how are you sir?
-Clay, good to see you today.
-Hey, you too. We are here today talking about the process of becoming an effective leader. And I say, an effective leader. I think a lot of people, you know, we're the boss of the company. There's 10 people that work with us, and so we're kind of by default, the leader.
-But then you know, no one's following us. Maybe they're tolerating us. So we want to become an effective leader.
-That happens to often.
-David, do you believe that effective leadership can be learned?
-Oh, absolutely. There's no question. Most of us are thrown into leadership positions by default, but that doesn't mean we're effective. Yeah, I do believe that most of us can become effective if we learn certain strategies.
We all have different talents. We all have different strengths. But I think if you are perceptive, and you understand what you're good at, what you're not good at, you could certainly become effective.
-Well, here's an example, I think, of somebody who became an effective leader. You went to college. You were six foot, six in your freshman year?
-About six, seven and a half.
-Six, seven and a half your freshman year of college there at the Naval Academy. And you grew to be seven foot, one by the end of your sophomore year?
-Yeah. I was six, seven and a half the day I reported, about 172 pounds. And by the time I was into my sophomore year, I was seven foot, 235.
-So I had gained 60 pounds in the first two years that I was there.
-So you're now, all of a sudden you went from a guy who was a good athlete. I think admittedly you said in high school you were OK.
-I was just OK.
-And you were, in high school, six foot, five? What? Six foot, six player your junior and senior year?
-Right six, four by my junior year and then about six, seven my senior year.
-So you were good, but you weren't like the best in the world.
-Right. I had some college coaches actually come and watch me play and said they didn't think I was good enough to play Division I basketball.
-So then you get to the Naval Academy, where I think there's a long history of players who have gone from the Naval Academy the pros. There's you, and then there's you, and I think it's pretty much you, right? And so you're there, and all of a sudden, you become like the superstar. I think your senior year, what, you scored 28 points a game your senior year in college?
-Something like that.
-It was a lot. You didn't count, but I was looking it up. So you were scoring a lot of points. So all of a sudden you went from one of the guys to like, the guy. And now you drafted, and you're kind of, you're supposed to be the chosen one that is going to save the Spurs, or fix the team, or help.
-Perfect example of someone who was thrust into leadership.
-OK. And so you're all of a sudden--
-I had no choice on that one.
-So let's talk about it. When the others Spurs start showing up, and they've been there for a few years, and you're the new guy. And they start showing up for practice-- what was that like trying to learn to be a leader on the pro level?
-Yeah, very difficult. I guess I would imagine for many business guys they come to a new company and you're supposed to be taking over a Vice President job or something, I imagine it's pretty much the same thing. You're walking in a little bit cold, and there are some more veteran people there who know the system, who know the league, and yet I'm expected to come in and help guide the ship.
Very challenging, absolutely. But I think the thing is you have to understand your own skills and your own talents. And I think part of it was, I had a fairly decent sense of who I was. And I knew that I couldn't lead in a way that I wasn't comfortable for me.
And so I didn't try to be something that I wasn't. I just came in and there was a certain culture here in the team and I said, well, that's not a culture that I'm comfortable in. And I think we need to build around--
-Did you actually address the music situation the locker room? Did you ever say that? You remember talking about that?
-Yeah, many times. Yeah, I mean I addressed a lot of things. I mean, I was probably a little bit obnoxious in some of the things that I did. I talked to my coach about saying a bad word or two. And I'd say, you know, I don't mind you yelling at me, you're just telling me what I need to do. You don't need to say a bad word to me.
And so those are things that just-- I was a little bit, I wasn't afraid of anything. I just felt like I want to be what you need me to be, but I can't be something that I'm not. So my whole thing was either you accept me, you want me, or you don't, or you want somebody else. And so I tried to bring my talents to the table where I could be most helpful for the team.
-Now one of your favorite historical figures, a guy that you named the school after that you started. So we want to make sure, the first venture that you poured your time and energy to after retiring was The Carver Academy. And this school, if you're not familiar with it, I encourage you to Google it and check it out.
Today, you're now-- the organization is opening how many schools?
-We're opening 20 schools here in San Antonio over the next five years.
-So you started it with nothing, it's now opening 20 something schools. It's doing great. But the thing was that you named the school after this guy. So this guy's name has value. This guy's name has meaning. It means something to you. And he said this, "99% percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses"
Do you believe that a leader can ever make excuses?
-No. Because nobody cares about excuses. Excuses are reasons why you didn't get there. You know, you just need to know why you didn't get there, but you can't use them as an escape. You need to use, though, that information in a way that can help you grow in the future. You know, failure is not the end of the world. I don't think-- we look at failure as something to avoid at all cost. And I think that that's a mistake.
I think we need to embrace failure sometimes. Sometimes we need to know what our boundaries are. We need to know what we can and what we cannot do. There are areas where I know I'm not strong. And I would hate to push forward in an area where I think I'm good and I'm not. So I think sometimes we need to know when we fail, I need to get somebody to help me in this area.
-So when you started The Carver Academy and the private school, you really wanted to empower the kids with a great education and discipline. You stressed a lot that a leader listens, responds, and supports others.
So I want to talk about this principle one, he listens. In your mind, what does it mean for a leader to really listen? Not just to just sit there and wait for someone to finish talking, but to actually listen? What does that mean for a leader to listen?
-Well, probably the best example I can use of that is in a marriage. As a husband, you're the leader of the household. You're responsible for the outcome of that family. To listen means to hear what your partner is saying. So it doesn't always mean that you do what they say, but it means that you hear it and you respond to it. And understand that that person is trying to help you get to where you want to be. I mean, that that person is your partner, your other half. The two become one.
And so listening means hearing what they have to say and respecting what they have to say and an understanding that it is-- that's your other half. That's coming from you. And you need to weigh it accordingly. So I think listening is a really critical skill that sometimes we glaze, we gloss over. We're not even-- I know a leader of a huge organization that told me, he said, I wasn't very good at listening before.
He said I always interrupted people when they spoke because I thought I knew exactly what they were getting ready to say. And he said when the meeting would end, I would give all of my suggestions and everybody would leave. He said I didn't listen to what they were saying, but he said that I have taken a step back. And now before I even give any of my suggestions after the meeting, I listen to everyone.
He says usually, most of the items on my list are ticked off, and I may have one or two things to add. But other people feel like they're a part of the conversation now. They feel like they're contributing to the meeting, contributing to the organization, and we still get the same amount of work done. So listening is a skill. It's making other people feel valued in their opinion.
-That's an action step we can all take, not trying to fill in the words for people. And to make sure that if you're in an office environment, go ahead and let everybody share their input before you share yours.
-Well, at least listen. I mean, if you respect them, if you have them in a position where they have a job to do, listen to what they're saying. That is a key aspect of getting them to have some buy in to what your company or what your organization is doing.
-Now throughout your career, you've had to learn to be a good listener. Has there been-- this gentleman you were talking about, there-- has there been certain people that have taught you this skill? Have you had people you've kind of observed and said wow, that person is a great listener, that's somebody that I learned from?
-Well, I mean, I think the people that I love the most, my family, are probably the ones that have taught me the most about listening. I pay a price when I don't listen to them. And it's not fun. It could be discord in a relationship or it could be rebellion. I mean, it could be anything.
So there's a heavy price to be paid when you ignore someone who is important to you, and to your group, to your organization. And I just think that's a valuable lesson that you can learn the hard way, or you can learn through either mentorship, or you could you learn just by listening and saying hey, OK, I'm going to try that. I'm going to sit down. I'm going to hear what they have to say.
And even if I don't agree with that, I'm going to go ahead and go along with it, just to see. Just to show them that they're important to me. Give them some ownership in the family. It's not just my family, it's our family. So yeah, sometimes it pays to even go against what you might think to support those people around you.
-Now principal number two is he responds. When you say that a leader responds, what does that mean?
-Well, responding is not letting something go by the wayside. If there is a problem, or a perceived problem-- it doesn't even have to be a real problem-- sometimes it has to be just something someone thinks. Again going back to the family analogy, if my wife thinks there's a problem, then there's a problem. Whether there is or not, there's a problem.
So understanding, you listen, and you respond to the problem. You respond to the issue and say, I recognize what you're saying and let's figure out some next steps to take.
-So these are principles we can apply in any business, any form of leadership. We can listen, we can respond. Can you give an example of how maybe-- you've had some great leaders in your life. I mean you had a chance to play on the dream team there, with coach Daly. I know you had some great leadership at the Naval Academy. You've had a great leadership on the NBA level.
Can you think of a good example of one of the leaders that you've seen who responded really well? I mean, who was absolutely dynamite when it came to responding to things he heard.
-I would go back to my time with the Spurs, and I would say that Greg Popovich is a really great example of that. Greg Popovich was our coach there. And he led us to several championships. Now four championships and counting.
And when he first came in, he had his ideas of how things should go and he had his plan he put into place. But over the years, I've seen him adapt to different players, different styles, different input and opinion. And now he's very much a player's coach.
He still has his vision. He still has his system but does a phenomenal job of really adapting his system to the players that he has. And so he is a coach that has done a very good job of listening to his players and responding to their needs.
As I got older, he played me less, no matter what I said. I was like, I want to play more, I want to play more. He said, no. We're going to cut your minutes back. We're going to prepare you so you can be effective in the playoffs.
Well, he's a guy that responded to the circumstances. Not only what he heard, but what he saw. Sometimes listening is observing. it's seeing what's happening in your environment.
What's happening in my family? What's happening on the job? I see that you're struggling with this. I see that you're tired when you come into work. I see that, something, so I need to respond to those sort of things.
-That's a good example, though, of here you were in your career, you didn't want to reduce your minutes.
DAVID ROBINSON: Right.
-But he listened to you, right? You guys had a discussion.
-And then you expressed your concerns. And even though maybe you two didn't agree, he went ahead and said, hey, so we can win some championships, which we can both agree on here, I'm going to go ahead and make a decision after hearing you out to do this. I'm going to respond and make this-- even though you didn't necessarily agree with the decision at that time, were you ultimately thankful that he did it that way?
-Oh absolutely. My body was fresher and I was able to contribute in good ways in the playoffs in that time. And so I think that right or wrong, he was trying to be sensitive to me. And it's hard to be mad at somebody who's trying to be sensitive to you, who's trying to help you be a better player, who's trying to put you in a position where you can succeed.
He was trying to do that for me. So at the end of the day, I had to appreciate that part.
-Now the final thing is a leader, he supports others. So he supports others. So what do you mean when you say that a leader supports others? What does that mean?
-Well, you want the best for someone. Even more so than they even want for themselves, at times. And the best example for that would probably be the father son relationship. Or the father child relationship. Sometimes you restrict, or you will limit, or you will do something for your children because it's in their best interest.
You want something better for them than they even want for themselves. They want to go out, they want to have a good time, they want to do this, and they want to do that. And you say, no I'm going to make sure that you stay home and study this time.
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