Both before Kobe Bryant tragically died in January of last year and since, much has been written about how he viewed his role as a leader. Some 9 years ago, I blogged about this. Given the challenges that leaders in all arenas have faced over the last 19 months, I revisited Kobe’s philosophy curious as to how his approach and beliefs would apply today. Would they be outdated, or do they have even more meaning?
Here are the core beliefs by which Kobe Bryant lived, conducted his life and led:
- “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? Yet accepting the opportunity to be a leader brings with it the responsibility of doing so effectively. Without question most all will agree that leadership in the COVID era required changes. The added elements include:
- Leading remotely.
- Overseeing a team that had other responsibilities to accomplish during the regular workday.
- Devising effective ways to communicate as needed with a team or individuals.
- Being sensitive to added challenges imposed on workers given their home-based status.
- Being aware of the need for tools that the team requires to produce the work … and finding the way to provide them.
As I see it, leading a team or organization since early 2020 didn’t change any of Kobe’s doctrine. If anything, it served to enhance the need and sensitivity to notice and accept the realities of this added challenge. More than ever the successful leader has needed to …
- Put best decisions over popular 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.
- Be less concerned about enhancing one’s own perceived valueas 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.
- Be sensitive to the added challenges being faced by employees and letting them know it by your actions … though the leader is also dealing with new/different ones as well.
- Become the best listener and make decisions that reflect the fact that you have been that.
- Have the confidence to lead and make the decisions that seem right in that moment.
Fundamentally, it is Kobe’s epitomizing agile/flexible leadership that made him successful then … and would now. It is that flexibility that proved to be a critical element for maintaining and even accelerating individual and team performance. He proved himself to be adaptable always and he always persevered in the face of challenges and setbacks.
Of course, Kobe Bryant’s leadership style was related to basketball. However, when you think about it there is 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 you as a leader or those you know make?