What the Warriors Can Teach Us About Leadership

by Sheeba Varghese, PCC

Well, the Bay Area has been buzzing with excitement of a potential NBA championship for their beloved basketball team, the Golden State Warriors, since the beginning of the 2016-2017 season. As many of you know, that has been accomplished! Having moved to the Bay Area over 6 years ago, I have come to appreciate this basketball team. They are a fun group to watch and the excitement is quite contagious. Like with many teams, the team has also endured quite a bit of criticism, challenges, injuries, and uncertainties. Additionally, with a bold move of bringing to their team a star player, Kevin Durant, they left critics saying that the Golden State Warriors had created a “super team” that would be impossible to beat because of their sheer talent and skills of the athletes they had assembled.

Table of Contents

Although, I am not a sportscaster or well versed in all things basketball, I do however understand leadership and the results of great, intentional, and focused leadership. This is what I observed from the sidelines with the Golden State Warriors.

As the competition has become fierce over the years, we know that athletes who are drafted on any team have skills. This is for certain. Yet, skills alone assembled on the court or on the field will not produce a championship. Similarly, in organizations all over the world, teams play a crucial part to the culture, productivity, and growth of any company. You can have a star player as you promote or hire an accomplished manager, or seasoned president and yet it will not necessarily accomplish what you are hoping that it will until certain principle elements are established at the foundational level.

What are the elements?


The culture that The Golden State Warriors embody is one of unselfish basketball, where each athlete is encouraged to pass the ball and play as a team.  There is an understanding of purpose to something bigger than simply themselves with unwavering commitment to be intentional with details at every level from the front office to the athletes on the court. They play without ego and embrace each other- willing to move out of the way so others may have the limelight in any given game.

Now, what I have mentioned is just about a basketball organization. How would this same principle translate to businesses, companies and organizations all over the world?

Establish a culture. The culture will demonstrate what and who is valued. It dictates the manner in which leaders lead, teams are assembled, people are developed and business is transacted. So, what is the culture in your organization?


There is a leadership philosophy with The Golden State Warriors team that creates other leaders. Steve Kerr, the head coach, was not able to be there courtside due to illness during most of the playoffs. So, Mike Brown became the acting Head Coach. Did this make a difference? I am not sure that it did. What we observed was a well-oiled machine on the court that exuded confidence and a belief in not only Mike Brown, but themselves.

I have always said that the mark of a GREAT leader is that he or she can leave and yet everything can proceed as though they never have. This does not happen overnight.  Yet, with intentionality, great leadership duplicates and exponentializes over time and the results are well worth it.  Cultivating the brilliance, strengths, and confidence of others creates for a powerful organization.

Cohesive Teams

Yes, you can have all the skills in the world, but without synergy, comradery and purpose among the team and their leaders, you will only go as far as the weakness that might be glaring among you.

When each member of the team understands their role in the bigger picture, a sense of purpose emerges and they begin to connect to the greater vision .  As each member seeks to embrace a learner’s mind, the possibilities are endless as to how they might expand to greater levels of effectiveness as it relates to the whole.

So, how does one relate to each other in your organization? What are the strengths of each member and how can that be called upon to accomplish the goals at hand? Where are areas that can be developed and supported so that each member shines in their full potential? These are all important questions to ask when creating cohesive teams.

Although, I think there are many more elements that could be added to the list above, I believe this is a great place to start. Build a strong foundation so you can withstand the moments when you are faced with adversities, challenges, transitions, and growth over time.



To create a winning team in your company, contact Sheeba today for a consultation.