Tom Izzo Can’t Lace ’em Up

I recently spent time reflecting about my struggle between being a high performing individual vs. the need to grow others and coach ’em up.  In hindsight, I spent the first eight years of my career focused on personal achievements and personal growth.  Now I’m entering a new chapter.

I tweeted a great article in the Harvard Business Review by Ed Batista (@edbatista) “Doing Less, Leading More.”

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Although I’m still focused on personal growth, I’m finding more and more enjoyment and necessity to grow others.  I’m the first to tell you, this is a challenge and it takes focused effort.  It was’t until a couple days ago when I was watching a Michigan State basketball game things got a little clearer.

I’m a basketball junkie and I love watching Michigan State teams as they are fierce competitors.  It is by no mistake Tom Izzo has a drill in practice aptly referred to as, “war.”  He gets the most out of his guys and every night their effort is never in question.  Oddly enough during a TV timeout, I caught a glimpse of the following image and I paused the game.


Tom Izzo can’t be more than five foot seven inches short.  Conversely, Adreian Payne is about seven feet tall.  Payne is the one on the floor electrifying the crowds and making the spectacular happen with his talents.  Tom provides the blueprint, knowledge, tenacity, and competitive spirit.

Tom is coaching, Adreian is playing.  Tom provides instruction and guidance, Adreian executes.  At five foot seven, you wouldn’t want Tom to lace ’em up unless he was the last guy on your bench.  And even at seven feet tall, Adreian will likely never be half the coach of Mr. Izzo.

I realized I can continue to focus on my own efforts and probably be pretty successful.  But no one ever did anything truly great on their own.  This change will require me to put the sneakers on the shelf and be sure to get the right talent on the floor.

ACTION ITEM: I want your feedback.  What have you done to grow from a player to a successful coach?  What changes did you make?