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Research-backed career advice from NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's all-time leading scorer, author and speaker.
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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's all-time leading scorer, author and speaker.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the highly coveted spot of the NBA's all-time highest scorer. But that doesn't mean he's only focused on his own success.

In fact, for the six-time NBA champion, having a team mentality is what defines a successful person.

Boosting others up "is what leadership is about," Abdul-Jabbar told CNBC.

"If you don't think about how what you do affects other people," he said, "you get lost."

Psychological research backs the pro athlete's advice to have a team-centric approach.

Research by Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania professor and best-selling author Adam Grant found that helping others typically leads to more successful careers.

Other psychological studies have found that focusing on others can increase happiness and productivity.

"What matters isn't who crosses the finish line but that we did our best to boost the whole team," the now-retired athlete writes in his new book, "Writings on the Wall."

"The human race is a relay in which we all make our best run, then pass the baton to the next runner," he added.