Living in Colorado provides a first-hand view of the Denver Nuggets rampant run-through of the NBA Finals climaxing with the Championship. The Nuggets are “the talk of the town” with people joining together to support their beloved team. And there’s so much to celebrate about this team!
That being said, the dynamic duo of Jamal Murry and Nikola Jokic is something for the ages. Like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. This is a partnership that works in that these two teammates help each other in leading and motivating their team members with Michael Malone at the helm. In addition, there’s a whole cast of characters that have contributed to the Nuggets success including Aaron Gorden, Christian Braun, Bruce Brown, Jeff Gordon, and Michael Porter, Jr. To summarize, it’s a team that works well together in a cohesive manner that delivers results. In this instance, results are defined as the NBA Championship!
And yet, it’s Nikola Jokic who has demonstrated strong leadership traits that are examples that we should all consider if we aspire to be an effective leader. How a 28-year-old can gain this wisdom at such a young age is impressive. Frankly, I’ve known people who are in their 40s and 50s that fail to demonstrate these traits.
To set the stage, leadership skills include the ability of a person in a role that aids in guiding and encouraging a group of people, or the team, toward achieving a common goal or set of goals. Said simply, great leaders attract and inspire people to perform at their highest level.
I’d suggest that Nikola Jokic or “The Joker” has demonstrated several traits that exemplify his effectiveness as a leader. While this isn’t an all-inclusive list, these are some of the key behaviors that Jokic has demonstrated as a leader.
- Communication: Strong communication skills enable leaders to provide necessary information and direction to their teams which inevitably enhances morale and productivity. Jokic communicates on the court, directing his teammates, calling out plays, and providing guidance. His ability to effectively communicate helps to organize the team and provides the synergy necessary to win.
- Emotional Intelligence: Defined as the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage and handle emotions, Jokic seems to demonstrate this on an ongoing basis. He’s stoic when faced with his perception of a bad call – never allowing himself to let his emotions overtake his on-court behavior. His “outrage” is demonstrated by a single look of disbelief with his hands outstretch parallel to the elbow. No slamming of the ball or screaming at the referee. He remains composed under pressure and provides support to his teammates during challenging moments.
- Humility: Anyone who has listened to a post-game interview knows that Jokic demonstrates humility despite his remarkable talent and accomplishments. Humble leaders are more likely to build strong relationships with their team members which leads to a more cohesive and effective team. He continually defers to his teammates and is focused on the team’s success. He leads by example, which motivates his teammates to elevate their play.
- Innovative: Innovative leaders often inspire productivity in new ways and through different approaches than have been used previously. Jokic possesses an ability to see the entire court, anticipate plays, and make accurate passes. These traits are more aligned to the position of point guard (who is focused on running the offense) as compared to a center, but Jokic does this in a body that stands 6’11” where he’s able to see the teammate that is best positioned to score. This behavior creates a cohesive team dynamic.
- Focus: To be a focused leader is to center your attention on those activities that deliver results. The Denver Nuggets and most specifically, Nikola Jokic have been overlooked – the redheaded stepchild of the NBA. (As a ginger, I can say this!) And yet, the Joker and the Nuggets have been myopically focused on winning their first NBA Championship. Nikola has envisioned a future of opportunities (or the ability to connect present events to map outcomes and consequences into the future) while tuning out the noise of negativity and/or dismissiveness.
There’s no doubt that Nikola Jokic is exciting to watch due to his play on the court. What I’d suggest is that he’s exciting to watch as to how he demonstrates leadership on and off the court. As my dear old dad used to say, sports teach many life lessons.
In this instance, the life lessons are evident in the behaviors demonstrated by one 28-year-old from Serbia. It’s these leadership skills combined with his physical abilities that may be the necessary ingredients for a dynasty in the making. If nothing else, Jovic inspires us all to be better leaders.
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