Recent conjecture in the news surrounding New York Knicks president, and former basketball coach and player Phil Jackson’s next professional move inspires a thoughtful examination of the leadership successes he’s collected over a nearly 50-year career. At 70 years-old, with more NBA championships and a higher percentage of game wins to his credit than any other coach in NBA history, Jackson’s track record is legendary. Most interestingly though, his approach to leadership and teamwork in the hyper-competitive world of sports is not just about winning games, but ultimately focused on moving a team toward its highest nature. Influenced by Eastern philosophy and the fundamental principles of humanistic psychology, meaningful success to Jackson centers on his team meeting its goals, and that achievement fueling the esteem of each individual player. Like an orchestra that fine tunes its instruments to play in concert with one another, Jackson’s leadership philosophy also contends that the team with the most members playing harmoniously with each other is generally the one that wins. Coming from the coach that lays claim to the most NBA wins, this philosophy is particularly compelling.
Where some NBA franchises might be focused on winning games exclusively, some higher education institutions might also be singularly focused on students’ vocational preparedness. In the same spirit as Jackson’s coaching, what we’re trying to create at TCS is a model of higher ed cooperation where institutions work in concert with one another to elevate the collective culture to a higher level. While the student program satisfaction ratings of our member schools’ programs are a key indicator of performance in higher education – and can be gratifying when especially favorable, far more important is the feedback about our graduates that comes from the employer community hiring our students. In contrast to an insular focus on student satisfaction, we favor a program development approach that is focused on creating more meaningful lives and even more compelling opportunities for our students through collaboration with all of the schools within our system.
Whether your game is basketball, business or higher education – the fundamental tenets of achieving meaningful success are the same. Those that engage others through radical cooperation will be best positioned to meet the leading goals of the larger group – be it an individual team working on a project, a collection of schools within a higher education system, a major metropolitan business ecosystem, or the global community.