What the Passion of Phil Jackson Teaches About Teamwork


“Hey look, that’s Phil Jackson.”

I had just sat down for lunch with my boss in the Valley about four years ago when he pointed to a table across the room.

Three men sat together in a booth.

Phil JacksonJohn WoodenTex Winter.


The High Priesthood of basketball coaching.

We ate our lunch and because my boss was friendly with Wooden, we made our way to the table.

Jackson was closest to me.  We struck up a quick conversation about a game he coached in my hometown early in his career and that was it.

Very friendly guy.

I have a soft spot for Phil Jackson.  Mainly because he is someone that took an intensely curious mind and channeled it all into one great passion:  bringing people together to achieve a common goal.

It’s not about basketball.

It’s about finding your passion and winning.

And to win you need some kind of team.

Whether it’s your family or partners or who you outsource your stuff to or your actual employees, you need help.

With that in mind, here are what I consider to be  Jackson’s 10 Best Lessons on Teamwork:

1.  It’s about us, not you.

2.  People first, process second.

3.  Discover what motivates each individual.

4.  Always be teaching.

5.  Find inspiration from unlikely sources.

6.  Have a massive goal that everyone can buy into.

7.  Let your team make mistakes and find their own way out of it.

8.  Encourage your stars to lead.

9.  Be cool when others around you are losing their heads.

10.  Date the boss’s daughter.

Did I miss anything?  Oh yeah…Go Lakers!

Steve Averill

Principal at Averill Media. Online marketing for small business. Lover of the niche.

16 thoughts on “What the Passion of Phil Jackson Teaches About Teamwork

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  8. Well. It’s no secret that i’m not much of a Lakers fan… so i find it a BIT funny that a on a team with Kobe, you can still say your #1 key is “It’s about us, not you”. Kobe is the biggest “About me” kind of guy. His ego is too big. He’s a talented guy, but that’s no reason to think the game is all about you, there’s 4 other guys out there with you all the time.

    Sorry for the rant, i just thought it was ironic.

  9. uh maybe because phil took the biggest ball hog ever in Michael jordan and turned him into a team player, then took shaq and kobe and taught them to co exist and now kobe (unless you have not been watching) is a clear leader and distributor of the ball…oooh dude love u but way off here my friend

  10. LOL… Kobe a distributor of the ball?

    Uh, not so much.

    What’s laughable is that if my dead grandmother had a team of:
    Jordan, Pippen, Paxon, Rodman
    Shaq, Kobe
    Kobe, Odom, and a 7′ Euro All-Star

    She would have 12 rings. Phil Jackson only has 9.

    This guy is the most over-rated coach of all time (if you can call him a coach)

    Why do you sniff his jock?

  11. Thanks Rico but you are not looking beyond the obvious and your own bias toward Jackson. Anyway this is all a metaphor for business and that is main point here.

  12. Excellent point. The metaphor for business is “If you put together all-star teams, anyone can win, despite the lack of leadership.”

  13. Jeez you’re right you know more about this than Red Auerbach.

    ESPN.com: Besides the ability to communicate, is there anything else that makes him (Phil Jackson)a great coach?

    Auerbach: There’s no question in my mind that he is a great coach. Because I’ve seen guys who get great teams on paper and they butcher it up, you see?

    If you have some great potential players, there are two things: One, you help make them great. Two, you devise a method of play that is suitable to their talent. He did that.

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