Career Advice

Draymond Green’s Top Tips For Succeeding Under Pressure

draymond smile finals

Here we are in the midst of the NBA Finals, and Draymond Green – arguably smackdab in the middle of the highest-stakes moment of his career – continues to keep his cool. He’s so chill he’s throwing down in a playful meme-off with Drake.

How do we as employers foster this kind of clutch performance – with humor and calm fully intact – when there’s a company-wide full-court-press?

It may be fundamental to who Green is as an athlete; even in his rookie year, he was known for his uncanny ability to stay fired up under pressure. Then-coach Mark Jackson noted that he’s a great leader no matter how high the stakes are, saying “guys embrace him because they realize he doesn’t just do it when he’s playing well and when we’re winning. He does it in the face of adversity.” But it’s also a trait that can be nurtured and developed.

No matter what team you’ll root for in The Finals, there’s a lot to be learned from Green’s playbook. Here are Draymond Green’s tips for staying fired up – while keeping your cool – under pressure:

1. Keep your eye on the ball.

Hint: “the ball” isn’t always the actual ball – even for Draymond Green. Every organization has to keep their eye on their Key Performance Indicators. Your KPIs help you track where you are on your path toward accomplishing your mission. They break it down into manageable bite-size pieces that can be taken down voraciously on the daily. The Warriors are athletes at heart, but they too can be motivated by deep analysis. Same goes for writers, designers, marketers, developers, manufacturers – you name it – anyone and everyone can benefit from understanding how to look at the numbers to understand patterns and opportunities for growth.  

“Most of our work is done off the court. Watching film, studying opponents and keeping our routines fresh motivates us to work towards our goal one day at a time.”  – Draymond Green

NBA: Playoffs Golden State Warriors Practice

2. Embrace adversity.

There will always be adversity, and if you don’t learn to be fueled by it – it will consume you. You hear a lot of hackneyed statements like “Learn from mistakes” or “every loss has a silver lining.” Green knows that on paper that’s all true, but that in reality you have to learn to set those silver linings aflame and then breathe fire. And, yes, in the meantime, take the time to discuss what went wrong and how to prevent the same thing from happening in the future.

“It’s no secret that I’m fueled by adversity. All I can do is control what I do and stay focused every day.  The rest will take care of itself in the long term.” – Draymond Green

3. Make an art of communication.

When you recognize that stress or frustration is getting the best of a team member, a little levity goes a long way. Knowing your audience is key – you have to say or do just the right thing to help them dial in a more constructive emotion so they can quickly gain composure. And this one correlates to the good chemistry piece. Getting to know one another and learning to have fun together is crucial, but even just spending lots of time together in environments that are more relaxed than on the court can open you up to being in sync. The more you know your teammates, the better you can help steer them back on course – so they can crush.

“Every person responds differently to communication and feedback. Knowing how your team (and your competition) respond to things you say and do to motivate them makes your communication more effective. It’s a game within a game.” – Draymond Green

4. Never rest on your laurels.

This one is about both knowing your own strengths and understanding those of your teammates – and playing hard to them. Green has talked openly about playing to his own strengths. Likewise, to get the best out of your teammates, it’s crucial to understand where they excel, where their weaknesses are, what motivates them, and what’s a stumbling block. And, most importantly, you yourself have to show up and put in the work every damn day. It’s infectious, and team members feed off of that work ethic. Green doesn’t feel great every single day on the court, but he always gives 100%. And then some.

“…my IQ has to be the strongest part of my game. I know I’m not the most athletic, not the fastest, not the strongest, not the quickest and not the highest jumper. My understanding of the game can’t come to a standstill, or my improvement will come to a standstill.”  – Draymond Green

Each and every one of these strategies for firing up your team is an act of discipline that becomes somewhat automatic over time. And if you can show up every day and put into place the habits you’ve carefully developed, the payoff is enormous for everyone: your organization, your team members, your personal satisfaction, and your biggest fans – whomever they may be.

For more on how to light a fire under employees (who know how to keep their cool), download the Complete Guide to Employee Engagement Activities.

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