How to Lead A Swarm of Bees…as in the Charlotte Hornets


I recently had the privilege of attending the newly crowned Grant Thornton Crown Club at the Spectrum Center, as part of a continuing education day, with CEO lessons from Grant Thornton CEO, Mike McGuire and Head Coach–Charlotte Hornets, Steve Clifford.

It was really interesting to hear Coach Clifford liken a sports team to a business team. He noted that it was important in both a sports team and a business team that the leader be INTENTIONAL about the culture. But even before that, he stated that you have to pick a good team. Your players and team members are the ones that support you, so choose wisely. Ask yourself these questions as a leader: What shadow do you cast as a leader? Is it one of positivity or negativity? Do you take ownership of problems in the organization? Do you create a high performance culture that has accountability? Do you assume positive intent with your players?

The top 3 things that are most important to Coach Clifford as a Leader are as follows:

  1. He wants to do well even if his team doesn’t like what he has to say.
  2. He shows up consistently everyday.
  3. He knows he is the expert and knows what it takes to win (Credibility), so he knows his players will follow his command, even if they don’t like it.

He states that if he had 3 words to describe his organization’s culture it is: WORK, TOGETHERNESS, and ACCOUNTABILITY.

These are all important thoughts to marinate on if you are a leader or aspire to be one. What do you hold most important in your values? How will you become actionable to cultivate the culture you want?


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