A really helpful skill in business is the ability to be part of a working group with a sense of responsibility and a sacrifice approach.

Is being a good teammate a skill that can be taught? How can a  manager develop a sense of belonging in a working group?

When Brad Stevens left his role of Head Coach at Butler University to get his chance in the NBA Boston Celtics, many basketball insiders were skeptical about his ability to keep together a group of players with strong personalities, even stronger egos, and popularity.

Five years after, Brad Stevens became one of the best examples of good management. He proved everyone he could win even with a team that was facing many issues.

When a sports season or a business project start with big investments, the expectations are very high. In sports as well as in business though, we can not foresee what is going to happen: that is why a leader must be prepared to face any kind of problem. 

The injuries of Celtics superstars (Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward) were two important moments of the season. The team, however, was able to join forces and do its best, showing everyone a great motivation and a deep sense of responsibility. 

Stevens applied two simple rules in his team management that every leader should learn.

Rule one: he made the players develop a sense of belonging. How is this possible? By creating a positive environment and motivating the team, he made each player feel an active and important part of the group. This kind of company culture is the result of a slow process that involves every single person of the team. 

Rule two: respect the roles. Stevens wants to be a “horizontal” leader. He is not that kind of coach who is managing a team in a “vertical” way, giving orders without confrontation. He is the one who keeps the team together and pushes the players to be united. The approach of Brad Stevens get the team stronger and strengthen the relationship between the players and the management thanks to a discipline based on roles respect. It is an easy algorithm: being respectful to obtain respect. 

These two rules, together with sympathy feelings and great technical skills, give the coach the chance to ask for results and, most important, to achieve them. 

Great leaders are a credible and trustworthy guide for the team. Players know that any single coach request is made to reach a better result for the whole team. 

To have a collective improvement we must aim to the enhancement of any single player and that’s what Stevens did with Boston Celtics. The common growth of the team is the results of personal improvement. 

Danny Ainge, Boston Celtics basketball operation manager, once said about Stevens: “I think Brad understands that he’s a basketball coach and that he’s not doing brain surgery tomorrow. He does get that.” This quote gives us an idea of Stevens approach: he does his job in an excellent way but without pressuring the team and taking too seriously his role. This makes the players positive and creates a healthy working environment. Never underestimate the ability to laugh and downplay in a difficult situation. 

The path of a leader is full of challenges and glitches that could stop any chance of success. To learn how to survive to this obstacles and bring out the best in your team, follow Brad Stevens approach: he’s an example of team management at its finest.