How Unconventional Leadership Produces Results

SAN FRANCISCO–In an era in which sports dynasties have all but disappeared (no offense, New England Patriots fans), it’s hard to argue with the success of the NBA Golden State Warriors.

IMBMyersUnder the direction of General Manager Bob Myers and Head Coach Steve Kerr, the Warriors have won three of the past four NBA championships (losing only in the finals in 2016) and currently sit on top of the NBA standings amid an 11-game winning streak.

Speaking here at the recent Mortgage Bankers Association’s Independent Mortgage Bankers Conference, Myers discussed how the Warriors transformed from a dying NBA franchise into a model other teams seek to emulate. He joined the Warriors in 2011 as assistant general manager, was promoted to general manager after 12 months and crafted a team that has made the playoffs every year since 2013 and won their first NBA title in 40 years.

Myers defined the Warriors’ success in a word: “culture.”

“We’re big on culture,” Myers said. “Culture is your actions; it’s not standing up here and then walking away. It’s defined by what you do…and we work had to make sure that culture is defined by everything we do on the team.”

While Myers is the behind-the-scenes operator of the franchise, the face of the Warriors is point guard Stephen Curry. “Most of the time, we are underwhelmed when we meet bigger-than-life people,” he said. “Steph is just the opposite. When you see him, you see what the individual and leader he is.”

For example, Myers said, when the Warriors had the opportunity to sign NBA star Kevin Durant, “Steph understood that he would be sharing the spotlight but he understood that it would help the team become better.”

Culture involves following instincts, Myers said, even when conventional wisdom suggests otherwise. For example, Myers hired Kerr–a former NBA player with no previous coaching experience–as head coach. He described Kerr as a “brilliant strategist and a great listener” who complements the Warriors’ approach to culture.

“He’s got eight championship rings, but that doesn’t mean much to him,” Myers said. “He’s focused on what’s next and what we can do to win the next championship.”