I think we’re seeing the new archetype of leader in LeBron James.
I remember watching Michael Jordan, or even Kobe a while ago, interact with his team. They were scared of him. If they weren’t playing well, he’d snap. Pointing fingers in faces. Shaking his head in disgust. It was pretty shaming to do that to other professional basketball players. But it got results and people still loved Mike. And some still love Kobe too.
Now we have LeBron James. I was watching highlight of a Cavs game on espn.com and at the end of the game after LeBron hits a bit shot, all the guys on the bench are going nuts. Making faces. Putting each other in headlocks. Waving their hands all over the place. Making fools of themselves pretty much…they didn’t just hit the shot! They’re riding the coat tails of the greatest basketball player alive right now. LeBron could yell at his team, he’s good enough to. He could shame guys, nobody is going to step to him. He pretty much is the Cleveland Cavaliers team. But yet, he clowns around before games. His teammates seem to genuinely enjoy being around him. He laughs on the bench (more than the one time that MJ was caught smiling and used in almost every thing where they needed him to see like-able!). He let’s teammates be themselves and have fun. When they are winning…
But even when they are losing he doesn’t get in their faces and bring shame. He goes on the court and gets it done. He doesn’t seem to care to lord over the other players that he’s the best guy in the world, that he’s the man, that he’s the franchise. He does care to win and he’ll take anyone willing (or anyone the Cavs can afford) with him.
This is the new picture of leadership. The day of the CEO as lord is over. It’s about leading by example and from within, not from above. In the upcoming generations, people will (and already do) resent overbearing, heavy thumbed leaders. People will honor and follow those who bring life in others and lead the way with passion and excellence.
That is the kind of leader that I want to be. I want to be a clown. I want to make faces and not be the guy that has to punk people to get them to shape up. I want to laugh. I want people to join in where I’m going because it’s good for them too, not just because they have to…because we’re having fun doing what we love doing together. I want to be passionate about life and excellent in what we are doing. At the end of the day, I’d rather play with LeBron than Kobe…maybe even MJ too (only history will prove me a fool to say that).