December 10, 2023

Pau Gasol on what it takes to be a leader

A translation of the San Antonio forward’s recent article in ‘Expansion’

This is a translation of Pau Gasol’s post on Expansion, which was written in Spanish.

Misunderstood Leaders, by Pau Gasol

Throughout the years, one of the questions I’ve asked repeatedly have been:

How to be a good leader?
What’s necessary?
Is one born or does one becomes a leader?

For all these different questions there is a subjective variety of answers. I have offered mine, based on my own experience and some other cases that I have discovered or read.

We live in a world where leadership is misunderstood. The concept of leadership has become one spoken of in absolutes. The keys to leadership are taught in every university program, in every business training. Conferences on how to become a good leader are so bountiful that they could fill an executives entire schedule.

Many leaders unconsciously are inconsistent in their leadership, without taking into account the impact of their actions and decisions. At the end of the day, many things that we term “leadership” may only have a remote relationship with its meaning, which ends up damaging the concept itself.

I do not intend here to fully develop a theory of leadership, but to address several important elements of leadership for me: the recognition from a third party or collective, the intelligent use of authority, the recognition of error and the ability to analyze the situation constantly without letting ego influence your decisions.

Earn respect

To begin with, the status of leader is recognized by others, not oneself. It is always a recognition of third parties who naturally perceive that quality and accept to commit themselves to the good – or bad – doing of a certain person. I do not know if one is born al leader or if one becomes a leader, but I do know that to be a good leader you must earn the respect of others.

On the other hand, leadership means intelligent use of authority, but in no case can it mean authoritarianism. In sports, it is essential that there is communication and understanding between the leader, or team leaders, with the rest of the players and the coaching staff. The leader is not a tyrant who imposes his law without asking or taking into account the opinion of others, in this way, the ability to listen to your colleagues is essential for the growth and proper functioning of the group.

One gives his strength and energy to a person or an organization if he recognizes in them qualities that he respects and the possibility of achieving a determined objective. Leadership is knowing how to convey and establish trust among all the members of the collective.

One of the most difficult things for a person who assumes a position of responsibility is to recognize when they have made a mistake and how to not let ego affect their next decision. The nature of professional sport is based on the fact that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Even the best teams in history have experienced what it means to lose. Sports is a great teacher in terms of how to deal with victory and defeat.

For me it is always important to constantly analyze the situation in which I am: being aware of what happens in your team to be able to detect situations or circumstances that require your intervention or not can be the difference between success or failure.

In this facet, again, communication is very important.

I have had the good fortune to learn from great coaches: Aito Garcia Reneses, Pepe Hernandez, Sergio Scariolo, Hubie Brown, Phil Jackson, my current coach Greg Popovich, among the most outstanding. Examples of people who have led for many years, always displaying good character with maximum levels of demand.

Probably, what has made them stay so long in the elite of their profession is their ability to manage their player’s and their assistant coaches’ ambitions and egos, putting the principles and values ​​of a team and highlighting the sense of equanimity and the common good always over the individual.

Analogy with entrepreneurs

When we see leaders today, we can view them not simply as leaders, rather as anecdotes as well. The analogy with entrepreneurs here is evident. Those who know how to stay in the position of leader, are those who make their team work better and get the best performance despite the difficulties and potholes. It is knowing how to make decisions under pressure, without the constant need to have to raise your voice, as you know Popovich practices the method of “a well timed shout is better better than a well constructed sermon”.

In summary, leadership doesn’t take a solitary form. Kobe Bryant and Kawhi Leonard, Messi and Ronaldo, Merkel and Obama … The list is very long and regardless of the opinions we have of one or the other, we can all agree that they are leaders with different ways of leading.

Let us recognize then and admire people who deserve the honor of being considered leaders, a term that we should never give lightly.

Thanks to @regarcia80 for the translation.

Gregg Popovich

Source: Pounding The Rock


Leave a Reply