Our Experts | Aaron Grossman, CEO
I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. At 41 years old, I have yet to witness one of our major sports franchises eclipsing the pinnacle of their respective sport and coming home with a championship. This year, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a chance to bring home a win. As everyone knows Lebron James chose to come back to Cleveland with the sole purpose of bringing a championship to a community that is starving for one. While Lebron is one of the greatest basketball players of all time, I think he has grown to become one of the best leaders in the history of the NBA. When Lebron stated that he considered his time in Miami to be his college years, I don’t think he was kidding. The man we see today is completely different than the man we saw leaving Cleveland in 2010. He left a phenomenal athlete; he arrived back a masterful leader. Here are three leadership lessons we can all take away from Lebron.
LEADERS have PATIENCE
Everyone wants the outcomes they are looking for RIGHT NOW! They don’t have patience for other people, especially when the outcomes they strive for require others to help support it. What we see in business is people who are unwilling to let go of responsibility because they know if they do it themselves, they will be assured of the outcome they are looking for. The problem with this concept is that it’s not scalable. As the year started, the Cavs had HUGE expectations, given the “Big Three” of Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. Instead of carrying the team on his back, Lebron allowed for his team to gel and figure out their roles so they could win when it counted. This meant having patience and suffering through losses early on as the team worked to become . . . well a team. As a team, the balance established allows for more than just one person to step up and lead when necessary. While Lebron is Lebron, his teammates have been able to step IN and step UP when called upon.
LEADERS live and breathe CULTURE
Without question, Lebron James demands a culture that showcases a willingness and desire to support one another and give towards a greater outcome. Championships are rarely won on the back of one person. Lebron learned that in his first stint with the Cavs. The Cavaliers of today are built with a cast of characters who genuinely care about each other and are willing to give up themselves so that the team can win. In a league of superstars who supposedly care only about themselves, Lebron has helped motivate his team to think differently. Everyone has a role, and everyone comes with the same message. The greatest companies in business are able to create success through a defined culture. They know who they are and who they want to be. They only allow people to participate on the team if they buy into their culture. Culture is contagious and a strong culture can infect those around them, and bring out the best in the people connected to the organization.
LEADERS overcome ADVERSITY
I watched game two of the NBA Finals with the Cavs pulling out a victory in overtime vs Golden State. The Warriors had only lost three games at home all season. The Cavs were without two of their Big Three, having lost all-stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to season-ending injuries. It would be easy to write this team off. Who wins when your best players are out? Teams with great leaders do! Lebron is still the best player in the world, and when the responsibility calls for him to step up and take charge . . . he does. As a result, the Cavs are tied 1-1 in the series. Lebron– and his TEAM– are inspired through his leadership and continue to march forward despite adversity. In business, we all deal with adversity. What do we do when we face it? Most use it as an excuse to fail. We don’t step up to the challenge . . . we give into it. They lower expectations and assume that everyone will understand. Great leaders do just the opposite. They take the adversity head on. They refuse to allow for failure of the desired goal. Great leaders know when to put their companies on their backs and drive forward. They inspire those around them to do more than what is expected of them. While this isn’t sustainable, great leaders know there is a time and place for it.