All Articles Leadership Development The secrets of an NBA coach's success

The secrets of an NBA coach’s success

NBA coach Michael Malone has the secret for building great culture, according to S. Chris Edmonds, who offers three lessons from Malone.

3 min read


Video Transcript:

How does the quality of your work culture impact your company’s performance? A new study from FTSE Russell examined the 1998-2022 cumulative returns of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For. Those top companies beat the stock market by a factor of 3.36!

Purposeful, positive, productive work cultures generate remarkable benefits. Our research shows that clients with a high respect culture enjoy 40% gains in employee engagement, 40% gains in customer service rankings, 40% gains in talent retention and 35% gains in results and profits, all within eighteen months of implementing our proven process.

The benefits of an uncompromising work culture are undeniable. The challenge is that most senior leaders have never experienced a successful culture change — much less led one. 

We all can learn from Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone. After the Nuggets won this year’s NBA Championship, Malone was asked what his secret was. He said, “It sure ain’t about drawing up (bleeping) plays. It’s about building relationships and instilling belief.”

Those are two powerful characteristics of a vibrant, healthy work culture! Building relationships is a core practice of great leaders. It’s a well-known “nugget” — but it is not a skill most senior leaders are adept at.

Instilling belief is a less-known quality of successful teams and successful companies. Instilling belief builds confidence in self, your boss and in your team members. It is of vital importance — and it’s not a skill most senior leaders are adept at.

There are a thousand things a leader can do to help build a healthy work culture. The key question is, which of those thousand things should a leader do to build and sustain an uncompromising work culture.

We teach senior leaders to do three things. First, define your desired work culture. Second, align all plans, decisions and actions to that desired work culture. Third, refine practices and players who do not embrace your desired work culture.

It’s not a quick fix. This three-phase process takes 18-24 months. Implementing these three proven steps creates a foundation upon which you can sustain a purposeful, positive, productive work culture.


S. Chris Edmonds is a speaker and author as well as executive consultant, founder and CEO with The Purposeful Culture Group. He has authored or co-authored seven books, including two Amazon bestsellers: “The Culture Engine” (2014) and “Good Comes First” (2021) with Mark Babbitt. Edmonds’ videos, posts and podcasts are available at Driving Results Through Culture. Follow Edmonds on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and Apple Podcasts.

Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own. 


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