3 Ways To Create Your Own Warrior Team

Kathy Rapp Change, Coaching, Culture, HR, HR & Sports, in the news, Innovation, Kathy Rapp, Leadership, Organizational Development, Performance, Recruiting, Sports

On April 13th, the Golden State Warriors made history with their 73rd win for the season.  In just a bit over 5 years they’ve gone from trash to cash, literally quadrupling the $450 million dollar investment led by Joe Lacob, a partner in the Silicon Valley VC firm, Kleiner Perkins.

Lacob, and a number of his VC friends, will tell you their differentiator is not just Steph Curry (although they give him a TON of well-deserved credit).  They will say it’s how they orchestrated the team to run like their portfolio businesses—starting with leadership, all the way through their style of play and how the talent works together.

Man.  Sort of sounds like what HR pros should be doing for their businesses.


“Lacob and his partner, Peter Guber, recruited investors who functioned like a board of directors.  It created an open structure where everyone was expected to play a role in the team’s success.”

And when it came to coaches, the Warriors hired on potential vs. record, first with Mark Jackson and then with Steve Kerr. Neither had ever held a head coaching job.  While Jackson improved the team’s record, Lacob felt Kerr would be a better fit with the org structure and wasn’t afraid to mess with their initial success.

Hiring for “fit” is crucial in every role, but probably none more important than in your leadership positions.  From the Board to the C-suite, HR has to drive organizational capability as well as strategy with how and who is hired into leadership roles.

Style (aka “Culture”):

I grew up playing ball, and as a forward and post player it was all about getting close to the basket.  Those were the high-percentage shots.  After all, why do you think a lay-up is called a LAY-UP?!

Well, the Warriors “Moneyballed” the heck out of that theory and determined that shots behind the 3-point line were just as accurate as those in front of it, and of course, yielded a higher return.  They changed their style of play and recruited killer 3-point shooters, thereby changing their culture.

It’s our job to analyze the style that best fits our organizations—and then hire to it.  It’s our job to help mold culture, and, specifically, a culture that represents values and achievement of goals.

Talent & Togetherness:

True, Lacob and crew can’t take credit for hiring Steph Curry; however, they knew he’d be the foundation of their new style of playing.  In support of him, they acquired other shooters in Thompson, Green, Bogut and Barnes—and have hit more 3-pointers than any other team this season.

The give-take aspect of play supports each other’s strengths.  They work well together.  “As a unit, they are practically unstoppable.”

When it comes to talent, HR can’t just focus on one star.  One star will go dark if those around him/her aren’t complimentary and bring their own strengths to the game. HR has a unique vantage point to understand the dynamics of “people” and can guide cohesive hiring decisions to build truly exceptional teams.

Even though as I write this my Houston Rockets are down 1-2 to the Warriors, I still hold out hope for a miracle.  Until then, I enjoy watching a truly well-orchestrated business and talent plan that is the Warriors.