By the time anyone sees this, it will likely be buried in the millions of posts that have something to say about the LeBron move to Miami. It will be interesting to see the results of the many polls that will inevitably be taken on how people (sports fans or not, basketball fanatics or not) feel about what transpired. Not so much around the marketing and PR hype that led up to the ESPN circus, but how they feel about the message his decision delivered on a number of levels.
Published on: Monday, July 12, 2010
Clearly strong arguments can and have been made on both sides: It speaks to the few of us left who actually think loyalty should mean something and those who feel that loyalty has nothing to do with it. He has the right to do what he wants; he put in seven years in Cleveland, worked hard both on and off the court, etc. All true.
It is also true that many look at what he decided to do and said that it only demonstrated once again that money and ego (maybe it's just ego this time since he took less money by signing with Miami) wins yet again in a world that often seems to be driven by both.
For me, while I certainly do believe in loyalty (my generation thought it a big deal) I really can't get too excited about it all in terms of the loyalty vs. money/ego or whatever. What bothers me is not the WHAT, but The HOW — How LeBron handled it and how his boss handled it. A plague on both their houses, as they say.
When it comes to smart career management, hell not just career management, but simply how one handles difficult situations in life, people usually either take the high road, or they let their emotions take over. It was easy to see and hear which of those roads Cavaliers' owner Dan Gilbert was on. In many respects, you can't blame him, but it was obvious, at least to me, that he wasn't angry because LeBron decided to leave so much as he was deeply hurt on a personal level by how LeBron handled his leaving. When kids get hurt feelings, they lash out. Gilbert is certainly no kid, but he certainly behaved like one. Don't get mad, Dan, get even. Build a team (your business) that will out-compete your former employee's team (his business).
I know it's a business, but instead of Lebron quietly reaching out to his boss and meeting with him 1:1 and thanking him for all that the club had done for him and making sure that his boss knew of both his appreciation and decision before the rest of the world, he elected to pander to the media and make a spectacle out of something that could have and should have been handled much differently.
People leave organizations daily. How they choose to handle that departure has more far-reaching effects than sometimes people imagine. Not only does the person leave, but the reputation perception people had of them prior to the parting leaves with them; how they manage the departure can change that reputation faster than they ever imagined.
I wonder if LeBron or his handlers really thought about that?
He may or may not get his multiple rings by going to the Heat, but my guess is that when it comes to his legacy in terms of how he is perceived people, they will always respect his God-given talent but not so much his character and value system.
Other views are welcomed.
Dave Opton founded ExecuNet in 1988 to provide a trusted environment where senior-level executives could build career opportunities by facilitating connections to other executives, experts and key market insights. Dave has drawn upon his 35 years of experience in human resources to develop and grow what has become the leading business and career membership network for executives and senior managers. A widely recognized executive career management expert, Dave is regularly quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Business Week, Fortune, Fast Company, and other leading business publications. Mr. Opton received his BA from Indiana University.
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