by Brian Walker
When the San Antonio Spurs last week hired WNBA star Becky Hammon as the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) first female full-time assistant coach, all the attention and news coverage was understandably focused on her gender. She will become the first woman to sit on an NBA bench, travel with the team and work on a permanent basis with the (all male) athletes.
While the hiring of Hammon was a progressive move by the Spurs and sends an important message about gender equality and inclusiveness, it also speaks to how successful organizations conduct their business.
The Spurs are champions. Last season they defeated LeBron James and the Miami Heat to win the NBA championship. This was the fifth championship win for them in 15 years. The Spurs easily and understandably could have stuck with the status quo. Why fix it if it ain’t broke?
Well-run companies, organizations and, in this case, a professional sports team, understand and embrace change and take calculated risks. They are secure enough to consider new ideas and perspectives. They know that to stay stagnant is to be left behind. They also know good talent when they see it.
It is in that spirit that Becky Hammon was chosen by the Spurs – not for her gender, not as a statement and certainly not as a novelty, but for what she can offer the organization and help them build on the franchise’s achievements. That is the ultimate compliment – a model organization, coming off the pinnacle of success, believes that Hammon can help lead them to even greater heights.
While her career will always be highlighted by this moment in time, it will be defined ultimately by her contributions to the success of the organization – as it should be.
Brian Walker is a senior vice president at MATTER.
Image by Katie Haugland via Creative Commons.