Coach Phil Jackson Coaching Principles

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Last week’s blog highlighted legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden’s coaching success principles and how they relate to coaching air talent. My other coaching mentor, Phil Jackson, coached basketball players to be leaders on the court and in life.

Jackson’s coaching philosophies not only apply to coaching talent, but they are also designed to get maximum performance to all levels of management in an organization. Let’s look at Jackson’s coaching tenets and how they relate to training talent.

1. Bench the Ego.“The more I tried to exert power directly, the less powerful I became.”

Some prominent programmers and consultants still use the dated ‘my way or the highway’ approach to coaching talent. Collaborating with talent without surrendering final authority gives them ownership of their growth.

2. Let Each Player Discover Their Own Destiny. “That meant pushing them to discover what distinct qualities they could bring to the game.”

The Randy Lane Company’s comprehensive Character Definition Exercise reveals a personality’s strengths and passions and how they can uniquely contribute to the show’s success.

3. The Key to Success is Compassion. “I’ve found that a few kind, thoughtful words can have a transformative effect on relationships, even with the toughest men in the room.”

Some programmers and coaches only give talent negative feedback – what they’re doing wrong. You get the most out of talent by dispensing balanced feedback. First, genuinely compliment them on what they’re doing well, then point out ways to build on the positives and improve performance.

4. Keep Your Eye on the Spirit, not on the Scoreboard. “Most coaches get tied up in knots worrying about tactics, but I preferred to focus my attention on whether the players were moving together in a spirited way.”

While it’s an advantage to apply tactics that grab the audience’s attention and maintain it (especially in PPM markets), greater success comes from cohesive teams with each host giving maximum effort creatively.

5. Sometimes You Have to Pull Out the Big Stick. Jackson sometimes used “tricks to wake up players and raise their level of consciousness.”

We occasionally incur situations where a personality or a team is not responding to the coaching recommendations and their ratings are declining. Then an intervention or “come to Jesus” meeting must happen to wake them up. Sometimes it results in replacing a talent or complete show, other times they turn it around successfully.

6. Forget the Ring. “Obsessing about winning is a loser’s game. What matters most is playing the game the right way and having the courage to grow, as human beings as well as basketball players. When you do that, the ring takes care of itself.”

We all know that Nielsen ratings fluctuate wildly. Focus on helping talent unlock their creative potential for the best on-air performance. When the audience is responding positively on the phones, on social media, at live events, and everyone connected to the show feels good about it, the ratings will come.

We chose Phil Jackson’s six most applicable coaching principles for this article. See “Phil Jackson’s 11 Principles of Mindful Leadership” 

Photo by Ramiro Pianarosa on Unsplash

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