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Leadership – About Doing the Right Thing

Lebron James, the  All Star basketball player for the Miami Heat has had to endure relentless criticism in his career from journalists (who should know better) as well as fans for lacking leadership on the basketball court. This is how some people see it: James is too concerned with making the right play, trusting his teammates, being unselfish, and for not seeking to become the hero at the end of games, therefore he must lack the clutch or leadership “gene”. This is puzzling because the qualities that James does posses are precisely the attributes we believe are sure signs of leadership.

Leadership and what it means “to be a leader” is greatly misunderstood in 2012. We’ve begun to substituted the fairytale notion of the

team building

“White Knight” whose singular obligation is to show up in the last second and save us, our organization and communities at the end the game. We just love the narrative that surrounds the last shot,  the fourth quarter drive, or the home run in the 9th as signals for the win.  All of these are about good fortune and talent though not necessarily about leadership.

Nestled in this notion of the “White Knight” is our belief  that we personally don’t have to take any responsibility for how we participated in the game, that doing the right thing or believing and trusting our team doesn’t matters.  If the end game is so important, then why play the other three quarters? Because most organizations win in an unspectacular fashion – day to day to day, making the small wins that add up to the big one. Leadership, trust, genuineness and the desire to serve all needs to be present at all times.

Here are four keys to winning any game.

  • Preparation: In sports, the hours spent on the practice field, getting physically fit, watching tapes  and learning about your opponent makes the difference.  Same is true elsewhere. In the recently released “Game Change” (HBO Movies) the lack of preparation was sited as a major contributor to the difficulties that  John McCain and his runny mate Sarah Palin faced in their 2008 presidential  campaign.
  • Team alignment: The expression that your organization is only as strong as your weakest link is not a saying it’s the truth. Every  one has to have the same vision, goals, mission and to be ready mentally when called on.
  • Execution: Knowing what to do and doing it are not the same thing. Do the right thing for the right reasons.
  • Open to Coaching: When you are in the middle of the game it is impossible to see what you are doing correctly or incorrectly. No one can afford to wait until the game is over to find out what they are doing. Call “time out” and get coached if you want to win.
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