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Former NBA Coach Kevin Eastman On How To Build Great Teams

'How can you even start a team if you don't have as its foundational piece what your values are? And let me give you an example or a definition of what we think a value is: something you're willing to be fired over. That's a value,' Kevin Eastman says of the most important ingredients for a team.

Former NBA championship coach Kevin Eastman isn't a technology guy, but he knows from his experience of building winning basketball teams that certain characteristics, like passion and curiosity, are key to building great teams anywhere.

Speaking on Monday at The Channel Company's XChange 2020 event in San Antonio, Texas, Eastman said from his time as assistant coach for the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers, he was able to discern the three key ingredients for a great team: values, people and culture.

[Related: Why Growing Your Business Demands A 'Culture Of Consistency' ]

"How can you even start a team if you don't have as its foundational piece what your values are?" Eastman said. "And let me give you an example or a definition of what we think a value is: something you're willing to be fired over. That's a value."

People and culture are also important, he added, but the former a little more so because a good culture can't be propped up if there are bad people behind it.

"You can have a bad culture, but really great people and they'll have a chance to hold that culture a little bit, hold that organization, hold that company," he said.

To get the best people, companies need to start with values, according to Eastman.

"We hire people based on our values," he said. "We don't hire them for like thinking. We don't hire for same color of skin. We don't hire them for religious preference. We hire them because they're the best people we can get that fit our values."

From there, team players can be distilled in 25 characteristics that "teams and organizations live by," Eastman said. Among them, he said, team players need to be competitive, driven, resilient and talented.

Passion is another important characteristic that is important for team members of all ages, though it plays a different role depending on age and experience, according to Eastman. For young people, they can have not as much experience but a lot of passion that can help carry them through to the next level. For older people, they may have a lot of knowledge, but they may need to find a way to keep the passion alive. When those things are in balance, it's a winning formula, said Eastman.

"When you have a passionate group around you, they can become a team," he said. "Passion is an incredible part of world championship-level teams."

 

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