The Boston Celtics’ Players’-Only Meetings

Coach Ime Udoka sought to de-stigmatize the concept of the “players-only meeting” and show that these sessions can focus on positive aspects as well.

It’s had a negative connotation in sports for years, an implication that there are key chemistry issues at play that are threatening the long-term success of the team.

But earlier this season, Boston Celtics Coach Ime Udoka sought to de-stigmatize the concept of the “players-only meeting” and show that these sessions can focus on positive elements as well.  

“If we’re doing something well, we show them the numbers, where we’re at over the last month or so, and I give them 15 minutes to talk amongst themselves, then I’ll walk back in and then, ‘What do you guys got for me?’” said Udoka, whose team plays in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight.

“We’ve had quite a few of those, and I think it encourages leadership and those guys being communicative. We show them where we’re at, ‘These are the things we can improve on and what do you guys think? What can we improve on as coaches?’”

It’s been a key strategy for the Celtics that may have some benefits to our own leadership worlds.

So often, we become overly hands-on with the internal dynamics of our teams, particularly during tough times.  

We call meeting after meeting, make sweeping tactical adjustments, and micromanage the finest of details.

But it’s our individual team members who will ultimately determine our collective success, and communication among them shouldn’t simply occur during periods of struggle.

We might be wise to take a page from the Celtics and have our team members convene at set periods each month without us in the room. We, like Udoka, could benefit from giving them some data and some structure and see what they can potentially bring back to us.

It will give our team members a sense of empowerment while conveying that we genuinely value their input.

Sustained success doesn’t just entail tense dialogue and confrontation when times get tough.

It’s also communicating when things are going well — and celebrating some victories along the way.  

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