I am a leadership junkie. I listen to podcasts, go to conferences, read books, and hang around other leaders with a desire to grow as a leader. I am also an even bigger basketball junkie. I am a fanatic about Kentucky Basketball . I root for the Orlando Magic. I will watch just about any kind of basketball that is on tv or near enough for me to attend. I believe that sports is an amazing way to learn about leadership, and Lebron James taught me a valuable leadership lesson this morning…through a failure of his.
Let me be clear, I am not a Lebron hater. I am not a Lebron fan. I respect his talent and skill for what it is: one of the top 10 players to ever play the game. Don’t give me that garbage about he is better than Jordan, and if that is you, go back to your Dungeons and Dragons world because you are a fantasy lover. I am simply apathetic towards him. Do your thing Lebron, do your thing.
But he has taught me a valuable lesson when it comes to leadership. It’s the simple principle of effective communication. Let’s rewind four years ago and what was a TV special called “The Decision.” (For those that don’t know, it was an entire tv show about where Lebron was going to play next. It was over the top. He did raise money for the Boys and Girls club through it, but for the most part, it made Lebron hated by lots of people.) This show was a perfect example of an over-communicated decision. He had made a decision to go to a new team, and the hoopla surrounding it was nauseating to most.
Then today Lebron announces, through a third party, that he was opting out of his contract giving him the ability to leave his current team and go to a new one. No reason why. No explanation. Just an announcement through his agent that leaves the sports world speculating why, how, where, and a host of other things.
So what did I learn from this? (This isn’t directly about Lebron. I don’t have a dog in the hunt.) It reinforces the NEED for effective communication as a leader. As leaders we are forced to make decisions A LOT. Many people do not understand the amount of decisions that a leader makes in a day. Some of these decision directly affect others. This is where communication needs to be concise.
When I have a major decision affecting any organization I work for I go through a series of things when relaying the decision to those under me.
- Why. Tell them a brief explanation as to why the decision is being made. It does not have to be elaborate, but must give them a little piece of mind. If you have a team member that needs more information, schedule a meeting to address what they need to understand.
- When. When will this decision take effect? Giving a clear date will help everyone adjust accordingly.
- How. How will this decision affect them directly. One decision might affect one employee but not another. Take the time to clearly delineate how it will impact what you expect of them.
Making decisions for a leader is part of what we do. It’s what separates leaders from managers. But, we as leaders, must make every effort to clearly communicate the decision. Too much info and it becomes more than it is, but too little will have people’s mind spinning. The decision might be the right one, but failing to communicate the vital aspects, could turn it into a failure.
Communication is key. Always has been….always will be.
Find Life…live grace…become hope.