Plugged In: Kevin Pritchard, general manager, Indiana Pacers
Indiana Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was promoted to his current job in June. The Indiana native and former general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers can now add “author” to his list of job titles, as well, with the recent publication of “Help The Helper: Building a Culture of Extreme Teamwork,” co-written by John Eliot (Portfolio Hardcover). Pritchard shares his ideas on how lessons learned in basketball can be used in business leadership.
About the book’s title: [It] is a basketball defensive term that applies to business and to life. On great teams, defensive help is one step away, with everyone helping each other. One of the biggest things is that we all want to be bigger than something than just ourselves. We all feel great when we know we are accomplishing more as a group, rather than just as individuals. We believe that is how you become more valuable. When I was a general manager of a minor league team, I had to do everything. You don’t just wear one hat … You have to figure out and identify places where you can really help the organization.
How that’s helped him do his job: One of the big things that you want to do is create an atmosphere of unselfishness. I enjoy the tough times. It is because you have to look in the mirror and you have to figure out who is in it for the right reasons versus the wrong reasons. As a player, there were a lot of times I didn’t want to go block out a big man, but to be a great team, you have to do these things. If you create an atmosphere of toughness and of understanding difficulties, you have a chance to be successful.
Business vs. basketball for an NBA team: It is about having a foundation of trust in that we are all after the same thing, but that is judged in different ways. Some teams feel good about making the playoffs while others are all about winning championships. You have to feel good about your organizational culture. It is about having open lines of communication. You have two pulls: One is trying to fill the building and generate as much revenue as possible; the other is all about basketball. There is a happy medium between the two if there is trust between both sides.
One key leadership rule: There is a thing we call The 30-Minute Rule. If I have thought about something for more than 30 minutes, then we owe it to ourselves to figure it out.