I don’t know if basketball is your favorite sport or, for that matter, if you even follow sports. Regardless, whether a team leader as an athlete or in another type of business, I am struck as to how closely aligned successful leading is in any type of organization. Leading is leading. I just read an article on ESPN’s website under the heading of “Laker Report”. Leadership on that team and specifically, that of Kobe Bryant, is the topic. Some quotes on his facebook page reveal his leadership philosophy.
“Leadership is responsibility. ”
“There comes a point when one must make a decision. Are YOU willing to do what it takes to push the right buttons to elevate those around you? If the answer is YES, are you willing to push the right buttons even if it means being perceived as the villain? Here’s where the true responsibility of being a leader lies. ”
“Sometimes you must prioritize the success of the team ahead of how your own image is perceived. The ability to elevate those around you is more than simply sharing (the ball) or making teammates feel a certain level of comfort. It’s pushing them to find their inner beast, even if they end up resenting you for it at the time.”
“I’d rather be perceived as a winner than a good teammate. I wish they both went hand in hand all the time but that’s just not reality.”
Sounds like a no nonsense stance doesn’t it? It does to me and yet accepting the opportunity to be a leader brings with it the responsibility of doing so effectively. During the many years that I spent at the helm of my business prior to becoming a leadership coach I had discussions with those being elevated into leadership positions about what they would be giving up while acquiring certain authority that came with the position. Some of the more prevalent issues identified included:
- Being best friends with those you lead. You, the leader may not have an issue however the other person (the best friend) might expect greater leniency, favors, latitude, etc. Why? “Because we’re good friends aren’t we?” This can get in the way of a true leader
- Putting popular decisions over best ones. It’s often surprising how many leaders have a gut instinct about what decision is the right one … and yet, they opt for one that will have greater acceptance among others or will allow others to think more favorably of them, the leader.
- Being more concerned about enhancing one’s own perceived value as leader than allowing others to have the spotlight. This leader allows concern with their own performance to outshine the ultimate goal of achieving the organization’s vision to the max and often that means allowing another to shine.
Kobe’s ‘leadership doctrine’ is written from his basketball perspective. And we know that he is often criticized for his actions, antics and opinions. Still, he has the confidence to lead and makes the decisions that seem right in that moment. When you think about it there is really little, if any, difference in leading in any arena. And it goes back to Kobe’s first quote … “Leadership is responsibility” How many points would the leaders that you know and experience make?