Like many of you, I have been watching The Last Dance. It is a powerful reminder of just how competitive, disciplined, and emotional Michael Jordan was, and still is, about winning at the game of basketball. But the most powerful moment so far has easily been his monologue on leadership at the end of episode 7. Here is that scene. If you can’t see it below, click here.
Watching this brought tears to my eyes. Over the years, I have had teachers, professors, and bosses who have subscribed to this philosophy of leadership. I’m sure many of you have as well. It’s never fun at the time. In fact, it sucks. But usually in hindsight it becomes clearer what that person was trying to accomplish. And you realize how they pushed you to grow.
My own view is that there are ways to win without resorting to emotional bullying. But then it begs the question, if you’re not being extreme, does that reduce performance? Would it have been better for Jordan to be a bit nicer to his teammates, if it meant winning fewer championships? Depends on who you ask.
When you’re determined to move a mountain, win a championship, or create something that has never been done before, it can be incredibly frustrating when you feel as if the team isn’t on the same level or that they don’t care as much as you. So you push. And that’s what Michael did. Winning has a price.
We all need to be challenged. Some people, like Michael, are good at pushing themselves to be the best that they can be. Others need more external help. How best to do that is the great debate. But as Fred Wilson said on his blog earlier this week: “Leadership is not being liked. Leadership is being respected and followed.”