I love a good sports documentary where you discover and learn about the personalities behind incredible performances on the court or field. I was fully immersed when “The Last Dance” aired its first episode a couple of months ago and, throughout the series, I couldn’t help but think about the leadership, strategy and unity principles that connect to our work in marketing communications and in creating successful teams.

Here are my 5 top takeaways from the series:

  1. Surround yourself with a team that makes you better: You can be good. Really, really good. You can be one of the greatest of all time, but you still need your team if you want to win. Michael Jordan was an incredible player and one of the best in basketball we’ll ever see, but he still needed Scottie Pippen and the rest of his Bulls teammates to push through and win championships. Same goes for your communications team. We have teams for a reason – to leverage one another’s strengths, to challenge each other and play devil’s advocate, to brainstorm creative ideas and solutions to problems, to spread the workload around, and frankly, to lean on one another and lift each other up. It’s easy to want to control every part of the process when executing a plan, but don’t forget your team will help you cross the finish line.
  2. Allow team members’ personalities to shine: Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson knew Dennis Rodman functioned differently. They allowed the unthinkable in-season adventure and let Rodman travel to Vegas for 48 hours, because they knew he needed that getaway to re-focus. Let your marketing communications team’s individual personalities shine and learn from all the perspectives they bring to the table. Enabling that freedom and openness will uncover the best ideas and deliver top-notch performance too.
  3. Push HARD for results: No one can deny Michael Jordan had an insane work ethic; nothing was going to get in the way of him winning championships. Jordan was tirelessly devoted to pushing himself mentally and physically to be the best. In the workplace, we need to do the same and we can’t forget big picture goals. As communications professionals, not only do we need to aim for media placements, social media engagements or participants at an event, but we also need to – first and foremost – keep in mind the high-level business goals that our CEOs and CMOs are focused on every day. Whether that’s driving restaurant traffic or boosting new product sales to lead a category, giving it your all for every single effort makes a difference and your results will show it.
  4. Create best practices from previous wins: Success didn’t come immediately to the Bulls when Michael Jordan came on board. It took time, but once they had the perfect team and coaching staff, they found the sweet spot and kept changes to a minimum. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you’re presented with a new opportunity or problem. Of course, we need to try and test new ideas, but don’t be afraid to rinse and repeat efforts that you know work and drive successful outcomes.
  5. Be direct: Michael Jordan didn’t beat around the bush in practice. Sure, you could argue he was too aggressive at times, but his team always knew what he wanted and expected from them. He was crystal clear about the workouts and plays he needed every player to make. Think about this when you’re communicating with your team or various stakeholders. We all need to strive for clear, succinct language that leaves the recipients of our messages confident and question-free.  

Linhart PR helps clients in a variety of industries create and execute clear and effective communications programs to build internal teams, connect with stakeholders, advance reputations and drive actions. We generate results for clients that help them win. To learn more, contact me at egarten@linhartpr.com.