According to Kale Flagg, it’s not uncommon for a team’s success to be attributed to a couple of extremely talented athletes instead of to a great coach. Proving that argument doesn’t hold water, Kale Flagg points to college basketball. Only a few coaches seem to win the championship year in and year out, he says, with the same handful of coaches in the Final Four each year.
This example isn’t limited to basketball. Kale Flagg says sports are filled with examples of teams with extremely talented players who have little or no success. Take for instance, says Kale Flagg, the NBA’s Washington Wizards in the 1990’s, formerly the Washington Bullets. Even though three of their starting five athletes were NBA All-Stars, the team barely broke .500 and didn’t make the playoffs. Kale Flagg also points to the Dallas Cowboys as an example. After Jimmy Johnson left, the team has never been the same.
Great players don’t win championships, Kale Flagg stresses. Great players in great systems win championships.
Kale Flagg also points to basketball coaches of Final Four caliber—Tubby Smith, Dean Smith, Rick Patino, Jim Calhoun and Pat Summit, to name a few. They are more than just great coaches—they are phenomenal motivators, recruiters, and presenters. But most importantly, they’ve all built great systems.
By studying how these coaches lead their teams to success, says Flagg, we can learn how to be great in our own businesses. Through a lot of sweat, effort and tears, nearly anyone can become a great motivator, recruiter, and presenter—if one builds a great system around it. Kale Flagg advises entrepreneurs to build their team the same way the great coaches in modern history have built their teams…from the ground up. He says that you do this by recruiting.
The lifeblood of a sales team is new talent, new blood. For this reason, a team leader should always be recruiting. Kale Flagg advises businesses to start recruiting by talking to the people that they already know, to either get them involved or to get referrals from them. Eventually, you will be recruiting people you have never met before–not only people who answer an advertisement in the newspaper or on the internet; but friends of friends, who you will meet in restaurants, at coffee shops. Quality people know quality people—so referrals from successful people are the best source for team members, Kale Flagg insists. And even random people that you’ll meet on airplanes or sporting events can be valuable. As Kale Flagg explains it, meeting talented people and getting them to buy into your vision is only the starting point.
To illustrate, Kale Flagg returns to the coaching analogy. When Rick Majerus, who was the basketball coach at the University of Utah in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, recruits a teenager to come to his school, it is only the first step in his system of creating a championship program. Once the new recruit arrives at school, the coach begins to develop a relationship with the new player. Kale Flagg has found that it is one thing to know what you want the new recruit to do—to know that they should practice and study and stay out of trouble—it is quite another to get the recruit to actually do those things. A coach needs to build and maintain a relationship, a trust and rapport with his new arrival. The coach’s future depends on his or her ability to develop the protégé’s talent. The coach has to coach, and getting the athlete to dig deep, to strive, to hunger, and to passionately sprint toward success is the key to good coaching. That’s exactly what an entrepreneur should be doing, explains Kale Flagg.
To get a recruit to strive, the entrepreneur must give him or her a little taste of success. As Kale Flagg points out, there is nothing like getting a hit in baseball, scoring a goal in soccer, or making a basket in basketball to motivate an athlete. The same is true in the “sport” of business. There is nothing like making a sale and receiving a bonus or accomplishing market share to build passion and motivation. Once tasted, people know that success can be theirs. That confidence is everything. It is irreplaceable.
But, Kale Flagg emphasizes, you have to build curiosity, create urgency, and ensure that your new prospect is ready to learn. It is the responsibility of an entrepreneur to create desire–preparing the soil before planting the seed, concludes Flagg.
Kale Flagg is a Reno, Nevada-based entrepreneur who has worked on Wall Street. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Array Asset Management, a firm that oversees utility scale solar arrays and General Partner of the American Redevelopment Fund, a $10mm redevelopment fund that sources, improves and re sells single family residences for profit in the Sacramento and Bay Areas of California.