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Home > Blog > Want to Know? Just Ask
Out of Our Minds
Monday, April 05, 2004 2:04 PM
Want to Know? Just Ask
Kevin Salwen on Business

It was an odd place for a management reminder, but Saturday night's NCAA Final Four had a good one. hewitt0319.jpgThe Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets had just blown a lead and were now tied with 25 seconds remaining. At the timeout to map his play, Tech Coach Paul Hewitt turned to his players and asked this simple question: Who did they think should shoot the last shot? The answer came back from two players: let Will Bynum shoot it. Bynum wasn't the game's high scorer, nor was he the team's best shooter.

But his teammates had noticed that he was beating his Oklahoma State defender repeatedly. The ball went to Bynum; he drove in and made the game-winning basket. \n\nHewitt is paid to coach, to lead, to make the decision. How did he decide to do that? By asking his players, the people who work for him.


4 comments

tom phillips - 4/5/2004 6:04:49 PM
i once heard a professor of social ethics say that Greek gods who did not hold a hand to ear were banished from the pantheon. a mark of leadership is the ability to remain open to influence. Paul Hewitt has it.
David Seruyange - 4/5/2004 3:41:08 PM
There are two important components that I think can be added: the character of Will Bynum and the character of the GA Tech Yellowjackets.

At 5'11' Will Bynum plays as much with his skills as he does his heart. So often people are evaluated based on superfluous criteria rather than their character and heart. Chances are Hewitt knew who would wind up with the ball and he felt confident in the team's decision because he knew his players well.

The culture of the Yellow Jackets was one of talent and winning, not politics. In teams with multiple 'gifted' players this decision is often a political one based on who wants the 'primetime' attention - look no further than the LA Lakers (Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal). As this relates to management decisions this approach CANNOT work in an environment that is politically charged - where the group isn't unified on the goal of getting a job done; a project manager who disallows programmers from direct communication with the client because of low job esteem, a sales person who is unwilling to share how the close deals and so on.
Jason Kelly - 4/5/2004 3:23:52 PM
I heard an interview with Hewitt this morning that added some context to the scene. He said he the idea behind asking - which he said he does every once in a while in a 'crossroads' situation in a game - is that people tend to perform better when they believe in the mission and feel like they were a part of the decision.
He also added that while he was clearly interested in soliciting the players' opinions, the decision ultimately was his - a point, he said, that his players understand. They have no doubts of who is ultimately in charge and held accountable for the outcome.
Michele Miller - 4/5/2004 3:04:59 PM
Not to mention that Hewitt has worked long-term to let his players know he trusts them to join him in making decisions... giving them them the power to try, succeed and even fail at times. More businesses should have this kind of relationship with their employees...

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