Tom Thibodeau has left a legacy of success during the span of his career coaching in the NBA. He has served as an assistant coach, and a head coach for various teams, and is currently the head coach of the New York Knicks. Everywhere he goes, success follows. Why?
Tom has built quite a resume during his coaching career. His accomplishments include:
- Hired as the defensive coach of the Boston Celtics in 2007, he helped the team become the best defensive team in the league.
- As the head coach of the Chicago Bulls, he tied the record for the most wins for a rookie coach and was named Coach of the Year.
- He was the fastest coach in history to reach 100 wins.
- As the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, he led the team to their first playoff appearance in 14 years.
- Hired as coach of the New York Knicks in 2020, he led the team to their first playoff appearance since 2013 and was again named Coach of the Year.
- On average, when starting his head coaching jobs, the team’s number of wins increased 65%.
What Makes Tom Thibodeau Successful?
Tom is obviously doing something right as a leader, so we decided to look at his secrets of success.
- Attention to detail and planning. Rick Patino said “Thibodeau was meticulously organized, almost scary organized, and he reminded me of Bill Belichick. I’ve spent a lot of time with Belichick and Thibodeau’s got a lot of the same mannerisms, the same attention to detail that Belichick has. And that’s about the highest compliment I could give someone.” In basketball, game planning is everything, and the details matter.
- Loyalty. Tom has players and other coaches in his corner, and they stay in his corner, because his is extremely loyal. When he has moved from team to team, he has brought veteran coaches and player with him. Loyalty is a two-way street, and he fosters loyal relationships.
- Core beliefs. Tom has core beliefs that he applies to coaching, and he tries to instill those beliefs in his players. He said “what goes into winning is probably the same: being serious-minded, tough, hardworking, smart, together — those are the things that you want to stand for. You take care of all the little things, and the results will take care of themselves.”
- Constant learning and adaptation. Tom believes that you learn from every experience, and you have to take what you’ve learned and adapt what you’re doing. During a hiatus after leaving the Bulls, he traveled to visit various teams to study how they operated. He has said “you never have it all figured out. You’re always trying to learn. There’s always better ways to do things.”
- Accountability. Tom believes that you only have to answer to yourself, and that you have to be honest with yourself and learn from your mistakes. He always says to himself “These are the things we did well, these are the things that we didn’t do as well as I would have liked. What could I have done better?”
- Everyone’s voice matters. Tom believes in open communication and talking daily with his staff. He said “We’re not going to get every decision right, but we want to have a process in which everyone’s included, and everyone’s voice matters.” “So we can debate things, we can disagree, but once the decision is made, we all align.”
- Teaching. Tom is known as someone who helps players develop as individuals and as team members. He will work with players one on one to improve their skills. He has helped to develop very successful players like Yao Ming and Kobe Bryant.
- Passion. Tom is an “eat, breathe, and sleep” basketball kind of coach. He loves the game, and it shows. Kevin Garnett, who played for Thibodeau at the Celtics said “Thibodeau is a worker. He’s a guy that loves his job. He does it with passion.”
At C-Suite We Like Tom’s Style
At C-Suite impact, we admire Tom’s leadership style, and particularly his passion and his willingness to learn. We would like to work with your team to teach what we know and learn from you. We are passionate about what we do, and we want to help you succeed. We have a suite of business resources in our portfolio that you can access for all of your business needs and build the value of your business. Contact us today to learn more.