AP Photo/Matt Slocum

At align5, we are apt to use a lot of sports analogies when describing different business scenarios, and for good reason.  Sports are akin to our organizations in that to win, you need the right players in the right spots executing the right strategy.  And since we’re also rabid Philadelphia sports fans, we often see lessons right in front of us with our own teams. If you’re not familiar with Ben Simmons, he is the Sixers all star point guard, who is refusing to play for the team and demanding a trade.  Obviously, his is a problem for the Sixers in many ways, but let’s use this opportunity to learn as business leaders.

3 Critical Lessons for CEOs


1. Recognize “Will vs Skill” in Your Interviewing Process and Talent Evaluation. There was no denying Simmons’ skill. He was the overall #1 pick in the draft in 2016.  His talent was undeniable on the court. However, as he entered the NBA, he began to shoot the ball less and less. Even if you know nothing about basketball, you probably know shooting is a critical skill.  As each offseason went on, more and more questions would arise with Simmons and each passing year, he continued to not take open shots, culminating in this year’s playoff loss where he passed up a wide open dunk. We need to recognize those in our organization who do not have the will to improve on the critical skills needed for the role.

2. Team Members Who Don’t Accept Feedback Well are Not Team Players. Whenever Simmons was provided feedback – whether it was from his coaches or the organization or the sports media – he bristled or simply did not listen. We often make excuses for talent in the organization, “Oh that’s just Joe – that’s how he is”.  When you don’t have a culture fit in your organization, the talent doesn’t matter.

3. When you recognize a Culture mismatch, move on. The longer it drags out, the worse the ending is. This is especially true with Simmons and the Sixers. They could have traded Simmons prior to signing him to a $177 MM contract. They could have traded him even after the contract. But now, after his playoff performance and current stance, Simmons’ value has never been lower and the end is extremely messy. Obviously, we cannot trade our employees like professional athletes. However, once we recognize the culture mismatch, we must act. That might be finding a replacement for the role or shifting responsibilities, but the longer this goes on the worse the ending will be. Disgruntled employees who are bad culture fits can be toxic for the entire organization and can even cause your best talent to walk away.

Define Your Core Values


One of the best ways to ensure you’re hiring a good culture fit is to define your Core Values and Purpose. This is probably one of the top 3 decisions you will make in the history of the organization because having a set of Values that define your Culture allows you to attract and retain the right employees to execute your strategy.

Download our FREE 14-page Core Values & Purpose Planning Packet to learn how to guide your company through this important process.

If you would like even more help with the discovery process, helpful meeting tips, a sample agenda, and ways to measure your success, take our online Master Course!