It may be possible that those of you who don’t live in New York and/or are not basketball fans or even sports fans may be unaware of “Linsanity.”
This is a condition of overwhelming excitement surrounding Jeremy Lin, a Chinese-American point guard phenom, who came out of the proverbial nowhere to energize the hapless Knicks and galvanize not only Knicks fans, but also what seems like a majority of New Yorkers, as well as many Taiwanese and even some people in mainland China.
Why? In his first appearances, Lin scored at least 20 points in five straight games, all of them Knicks victories. He is also the first NBA player to have at least 20 points and seven assists in each of his first four starts. In fact, the 89 points Lin scored in his first three starts is the most by an NBA player since the league merged with the ABA in 1976. He bested Kobe Bryant 38-34.
He was cut by the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets before coming to the Knicks. In December of 2011, he was one of only two players ever to have been sent by the Knicks to the D-League in Pennsylvania. Although Lin led his Palo Alto High School to a 32-1 record and the California championship, he received no college scholarship offers. Lin is a Harvard graduate, an American-born son of Taiwanese immigrants, and a practicing Christian.
There’s a lot to mine in Jeremy Lin’s story: perseverance, the triumph of the underdog, issues of race, following your dream. What, I wondered, was in it for managers?
It wasn’t until I watched the Knicks beat the defending-champion Dallas Mavericks that it clicked: Lin makes everyone around him better. Yes, he scored 28 points against the Mavericks. But he also had 14 assists. In previous games, he’s had anywhere from five to 13 assists.
Lin is excelling as point guard, creating instances that lead to a score for his team. He has great court vision. Lin knows how to run the offense: setting up plays, controlling the ball, and passing it to the right players at the right time, dictating the game’s tempo. He demonstrates good leadership skills. He stresses the ‘we’ of playing and thanks his teammates after the game (win or lose).
Whatever else you accomplish, your primary role as a manager is to make everyone around you better. You’re the point guard. Recognize and play to the strengths of your team members. Use your own “court vision” to set expectations and monitor performance. Make sure you have the right person in the right role at the right time. Acknowledge your team for a job well done.
Most likely, you will not have the same “Linsanity” surrounding your work as a manager. Just the satisfaction of making everyone around you better.
Barbara Kurka, an experienced HR professional, offers executive coaching; management training, and HR consulting, the latter uniquely geared toward small businesses. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.