The Type Of Leader Needed To Turn A Department Or Organization Around

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins is one of my favorite leaders in sports.  In the April 11th edition of Sports Illustrated, Michael Rosenberg profiled this quality man and leader.

Collins knows how to turn a team around.  Here is his track record for his initial season at each of his coaching stops:

  • The 1987 Chicago Bulls increased their win total by 10 games.
  • The 1996 Detroit Pistons increased by 18 wins as did the 2002 Washington Wizards.
  • Finally, this year’s Philadelphia 76ers increased their win total by 14 games from 27 to 41.

So how does he do this and are there any pricniples that are transferable to us as leaders? 

  1. High Intelligence – Collins has a photographic memory for things that matter to him – practically every play of every game he has been a part of, Bible verses, and people.  This creates a challenge – Collins also has a hard time forgetting painful things.
  2. Improvisation – Collins has an amazing ability to display uncanny, creative play-calling during the midst of games.  This creates a challenge – His players often get frustrated because they have had difficulty keeping up with his mind.
  3. Passion – Collins deeply loves and appreciates his staff and players.  He is incredibly generous and says, “I want them to feel important.”  This creates a challenge – Collins would constantly “invest” in his players after losses constantly reminding them of the games.  Players then tuned him out.
  4. Teaching – Collins is a great teacher to young players and assistant coaches.
  5. Delegation – Collins trusts his assistants and has delegated almost his entire current defensive strategy.  This is impressive because in his fourth stop as a head coach, he wants to ensure that his young players do not get an overdose of him.
  6. Idealism – “I want things to be right” he says.  A perfectionist needs things to be perfect where an idealist needs things done to the best of a person’s ability.

Collins is now a sympathetic figure who is universally admired and respected in the NBA.

  • Collins played on the ill-fated 1972 U.S. Olympic basketball team that was unjustly robbed of the gold medal.
  • Collins, who was the first player picked in the 1973 NBA Draft, had to retire at age 29 due to injuries – two years before the 76ers won the 1983 NBA championship.
  • Collins played for the 76ers team that lost in the NBA finals to Bill Walton’s Portland Trailblazers.
  • The Chicago Bulls won their first of 6 NBA titles with Michael Jordan shortly after terminating him, same with the Detroit Pistons several years later.

But nice guys always finish first. 

  1. Current Point Guard Jrue Holiday says “My career is going in the right way because of him, because he’s here.”
  2. He has been happily married to wife Kathy Collins for 37 years.
  3. And finally, his son Chris, as Assistant Coach for Mike Kryzewski at Duke and on the 2008 Olympic gold medal team, gave his father his gold medal.  

Doug Collins finally got his rightful gold medal.  The one he should have received in 1972.  He was now a champion, but he has always been a winner.

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.

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