Gregg Popovich has won more NBA games than any other coach. He also coached Team USA to a gold medal at the 2022 Beijing Games. His team members say he is a top communicator who understands them, empowers them, and creates a culture of selflessness that benefits everyone.

So What?

Communication is extremely important for today’s jobs and comes from a desire to work as a team and make the team better.

Known for coaching Team USA in the Olympic Games and bringing the San Antonios Spurs to five NBA championships, Gregg Popovich is well-loved by players and fans alike. Here is what makes him such an effective communicator and how brands can use some of his strategies.

Understand Who You’re Working With

Washington Wizards star guard Bradley Beal said in an interview about Popovich–who coached him for the US Olympic team–that part of his greatness as a coach and communicator is that he understands his players and what makes them tick.

“You hear about how great he is, but he’s really great. He is a really good coach, man. He’s [one of the great communicators], he’s a great leader, he understands us,” Beal said. “He’s a player’s coach and he’s intense. He gives you everything. He can be cool. He can laugh with you. He can be serious, he can be firm with you, he can be mad at you, but it won’t carry over.”


Understanding others is one of several major communications lessons. Without understanding one another, people are just talking at each other rather than actually relating thoughts and ideas that make sense. If you can’t understand the person you are trying to communicate with, your communication skills will be limited.

Empower Your Team

In a years-old press conference, Popovich said one way he motivates and develops his players was by empowering them to work as a team rather than telling them what to do in each play of a game. He admitted he will tell them he has “nothing” for them during a time-out and that it’s up to them to “figure it out.”

“I think competitive people don’t want to be manipulated constantly to do what one individual wants them to do,” Popovich said to ABC News. “It’s a great feeling when players get together and do things as a group. Whatever can be done to empower those people.”

By knowing when to suggest, when to step back, when to push, and when to give people more rope, it is possible to earn the respect of the team and be a guiding force for them to move forward without being told what to do. That’s called micromanaging, and no one likes it.

Communicate With Intensity

Popovich is known for an intense coaching style, which Beal called “contagious.”

“He’s an awesome coach to be around, and his energy, his intensity, it just trickles down to everybody. It’s contagious,” he said. “It’s contagious to the rest of the coaches, contagious to us. It’s a great atmosphere.”

Of course, it may not be appropriate to run up and down the office floor shouting at your team the way a basketball coach does, even if you are doing it in an encouraging way. However, marketers and managers can inject intensity into their communication in a more low-key way by making eye contact and showing that what their team members say matters to them. They can also take good suggestions and implement them in a timely manner.

Conveying with your tone of voice and with your schedule and agenda that your team members’ contributions matter can make the difference between a high-performing team and one that doesn’t seem to care much about performance.

Create a Culture of Selflessness

Popovich’s teams are carefully taught that selfless actions benefit other players and themselves. When the team succeeds as a group, the individuals succeed personally. It is not a coincidence that during Popovich’s 26 years with the San Antonio Spurs, the team made the playoffs 22 times in a row and won the championship five times, even with wide shifts in personnel.

When asked about what kind of people he looks for when drafting a team, Popovich said, “We’re looking for people . . . [who] have gotten over themselves, and you can tell that pretty quickly. You can talk to somebody for four or five minutes, and you can tell if it’s about them or if they understand that they’re just a piece of the puzzle.”

Treat Everyone the Same

One thing Beal noticed as Popovich coached Team USA to a gold medal is that he treated all the players equally and didn’t give favor to the biggest stars on the court.

“He has the same standard for everybody, whether it’s [Kevin Durant] or it’s me, whether it’s Jayson [Tatum], Dame [Lillard] or Zach [LaVine]. Whoever it is, it’s the same,” Beal said. “If you mess up, I’m on your butt. Draymond [Green], me, and you. We’ve got to be on the same page.”

Not only does equal treatment convey a sense of fairness that many will appreciate, but it also helps team members push themselves to do their best no matter where they think their abilities lie. Communicating that everyone is expected to do their best consistently sends the message that traditionally high performers can’t just coast but should work with the team to raise the level of all its members.

Media Shower works with intensity to develop and improve your company’s marketing plan.  Try Media Shower’s award-winning platform for free to see how we can help your team be its best.

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