Leaders Can Make It "Okay To Say"

One of the greatest joys of my career in sports, was working in the same office as coach, Steve Kerr.
At the time, he wasn’t a coach. He was the GM of the Phoenix Suns when I was overseeing the team’s group sales efforts. Coach or GM, Steve was always a leader.
I’ve worked for many orgs in sports, & at most, the biz ops group & the sports ops group exist as if they don’t know one another. Couldn’t be further from the case w Steve in charge of Suns b-ball ops. He would attend every single wkly biz mtg led by our team president, & would actively come over when mtgs were done & ask how he & the team could help.  On the group sales side of things this meant partnering on coaching clinics, having players meet w fans post game, & even himself, getting on the phones for some calls to our fans.
This post isn’t abt sports or business though. It’s abt being a leader & making it “ok” for others to speak up when they need to.  Steve encouraged input & it’s why I’m not surprised he’s having the success he is, winning titles as a coach (whether you think he has a super team or not).
Watch clips of him & his stars & you’ll see he openly encourages feedback & discussion.
I can’t tell you how many locations we visit, where when we meet w attendees individually, the feedback goes something like this: “My parents, siblings, teachers, &/or coaches never let me talk about this.” The “this” I’m referring to – is what’s been going on in their lives.
All of the “positions” above come w leadership responsibilities/impact.  A parent believing a child shouldn’t share emotions…a sibling calling their brother/sister weak…a coach saying that we must be mentally tough & just forget it & move on to the next one, are all examples of a leader making it not “ok to say” what’s on one’s mind.
I never realized till I got into this space, how much leaders impact what is “allowed” under their watch. But as we see suicide rates, opioid abuse, & the like rise, it’s time we took a universal stance that: making it ok to say what’s on our minds is not only healthy, it’s what drives success. Watching Steve w his players now is a joy bc he knows success comes from encouraging the openness.

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