CEO lessons Steven Pemberton Learned from Coaching a Kids’ Basketball Team

Steven Pemberton, CEO of Hollow Co, has had many leadership positions in the past. He has been a manager of a warehouse team of 30, a CEO of his own company, and even the coach of his son’s basketball team.

“It’s going to sound wrong, but it’s funny,” he says, “Those positions are almost all the same.”

How can coaching a basketball team of 8-year-old kids compare to running a 7-figure e-commerce business? Here are some thoughts Steven Pemberton shared in his interview with the Play Hard Podcast.

As the leader, you need to cultivate team spirit.

By definition, teams are groups of people working towards the same goal, whatever it may be: sports teams work towards winning the game, business teams work towards making money, and bands work together to make great music.

Therefore, if people on your team are working towards different ends, it will make the going very slow if not cause the unit to splinter apart entirely.

CEOs and coaches must ensure everyone on their team understands the big picture. They must ensure everyone is on the same page and aligned with the group mission, or they will have no chance of success from the onset.

As the leader, you need to empower each of your members.

Once everyone is moving in the same direction, the next step is empowering each of them. There is a proverb that goes, “A chain [or team] is only as strong as its weakest link.”

Note that a “weak” member doesn’t necessarily mean someone unskilled. Everyone is capable of greatness! Unfortunately, the “weakness” typically comes from hesitation, a fear of failure, or a tendency to hold themselves back.

A leader recognizes this and takes the time to reach out to each of his members and remind them of their strengths. They take the time to empower each of them and build their confidence that they can do what is asked of them—and more!

Great teams are made up of people who are confident in their abilities and feel good at their job. That’s why they become so dedicated and passionate, making them even better at their job, and the cycle continues!

Very rarely is skill level the problem. As long as your team is formed by people willing to learn and grow, you can quickly train them to your standards.

Spend time with your people and cultivate a company or team culture of growth and support. This will accelerate your growth immensely.

As the leader, you need to be the driving force.

As the CEO, you must remember that everyone is looking up to you. Assuming you have empowered everyone already and they all understand the goals, the company or team should move along on its own smoothly.

But, as the CEO, you are the face of the group and need to make sure you are living out the company values and mission. Everyone will feel the confidence necessary to keep going if you are doing well.

Always remember that your team needs you, if not physically, at least psychologically. If your team trusts you and will follow you, that is the cherry on top of your two fundamental building blocks.

We are all leaders in some way, whether we are company managers, leaders of our families, or just navigating ourselves through life. But even if you never coach a kids’ basketball team or become a CEO like Steven Pemberton, these lessons are applicable in nearly all aspects of life—you just need to get creative!