United Shore CEO Mat Ishbia says he likes to run his organisation “like a 2,000-person basketball team.”
It’s a mentality he’s taken from his days playing on the Michigan State Spartans under coach Tom Izzo.
Ishbia isn’t exactly ordering the employees at his Troy, Michigan-based financial services business to run suicides or practice their layups.
He just wants them to always “challenge the why” and ask questions. This stems from his experience helping Izzo coach the Spartans in his last year on the team.
“I was coaching with him and I’d ask, ‘Why do our guys have to get up at five in the morning and lift weights in the summer?’,” Ishbia told Business Insider. “When I was playing it was like, ‘This sucks. I don’t want to get up at five in the morning.'”
Izzo’s explanation proved enlightening: The early wakeup would prevent players from partying and getting in trouble. It also gave the team a chance to bond and grab breakfast together before classes started.
By questioning the coach, Ishbia gained some valuable insight on how to run a team. Had he simply accepted the gruelling pre-dawn workouts, he says he would have just gone on thinking they were part of some sort of arbitrary reasoning on Izzo’s part. Asking questions allowed Ishbia to become a better coach himself.
Ishbia says that today, he also encourages his own employees to challenge the status quo and ask questions. That way, workers can either facilitate change by shining the spotlight on outdated or problematic methods, or at least gain some perspective on why certain things are done the way they are.
“I don’t care what it is, you can challenge me on anything, and I’ll tell you why,” Ishbia said. “You might not think I’m right. You might not think my answer’s a good answer. But I’ll always tell you why. It’s good because then if you’re just doing something for the sake of doing it, it gets challenged.”
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