Contextual Leadership: Why Leaders Must Adapt To Their Team

Speaking to Bill Simmons about the championship hangover the Golden State Warriors are experiencing, head coach Steve Kerr mused, “there’s a malaise that’s settled in. We just don’t have that same edge we’ve had the last couple of years. And I’m perfectly fine with that because it’s human nature [for motivation to wane after a championship] and we’ve got to pace ourselves and get to the end of the year.”

How basketball coaches and players adapt to increase performance

Photo by JC Gellidon

Kerr’s response made me rewind the segment and listen again, this time with increased attentiveness and vigor. In the age of scripted interview answers, his raw authenticity was shocking. Yet, it also speaks volumes about Kerr’s sharp understanding of team dynamics, and his acceptance of the new-age role of a coach. In days gone by, sports coaches took a more hard-line, militaristic approach to leading. Now, the elite coaches lead contextually, changing their ‘style’ based on the situation, and the needs of the team at that time.