Learning Project Management Lessons from: The Last Dance

Netflix’s latest sports documentary: The Last Dance, is amassing millions of views and also stellar ratings from its wide-ranging audience. So, if you have an interest in sports, both individual and team, I would definitely recommend giving it a watch.

I also believe that the series should resonate with project management professionals as the documentary delves into the mindset of Michael Jordan, to uncover how the mind of one of the greatest winners in sport works.

And there are lessons to be learned.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

One of the main focusses in the documentary is how Jordan went from being the best player in the league within an average team to an even more successful member of a NBA championship winning team.

In his early career, he tried to do everything himself, typically only using his teammates as a last resort. He won many personal awards doing this but missed out on the biggest prizes. It shows how in order to win the biggest prize he had to set aside his ego, make some sacrifices on the court and trust that his teammates could deliver when called upon. He did exactly this, and the rest is history.

The same principles apply to project managers. No matter how good you are on your own, you’ll never hit the peaks that are achievable when you are part of a well functioning cohesive team.

You need to ensure that you extract the most out of your team/colleagues and use them to your advantage, doing so will make succeeding much easier.

 

Be Willing to Push Your Team

Michael Jordan was known for being hard on his team. He didn’t expect them to perform to his level, but he did expect them to give 100% at all times so they could perform at their highest possible level. As the leader, if he thought you weren’t pulling your weight, he’d let you know, whether you liked it or not.

Good project managers should do the same; you must be willing to make demands on your team to build maximum performance. If the project fails you will be the first person people look to blame. So make sure you have done everything to ensure success.

A good leader will challenge those around them to make them perform at their best. Being able to lift those around you will make you a better leader as well as making the individuals within your team better individuals. This is what Jordan was great at, it wasn’t always pleasant but it got the job done.

 

Have the mindset of a winner

Michael Jordan’s greatest asset wasn’t his physical abilities, it was was his mindset. He was absolutely committed to winning and was convinced at all times that he was going to achieve his goals.

In project management, you also need mental toughness; at some point in your career you are likely to fail. But you need to be able to overcome this and bounce back. Believe that you will be successful and be confident in what you are doing. If you need to take time off after project failure, do so, and make sure you learn your lessons in order to come back even stronger.

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

As we can see, failure isn’t always the end game; more often it can be a stepping stone to future success.

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