Three Leadership Lessons from Michael Jordan’s, The Last Dance

By now, most of us are probably experiencing Netflix fatigue. The good news is, we all see a light at the end of the tunnel where our evenings of binge watching the latest and greatest series with safe socializing will be replaced with human interaction. More good news, Tiger King is no longer the #1 streamed show on Netflix as it has been replaced by The Last Dance, highlighting the legendary career of Michael Jordan and The Chicago Bulls in the ‘90’s. To me, this gives me hope knowing that we still value greatness and don’t always default to watching trains collide for entertainment.

From a leadership perspective, the main character in each series represent complete opposite spectrums of leadership: a toxic leader and a motivational leader. In The Last Dance, I noticed several behaviors that we can take to the consulting world and apply it to our client service. I would like to highlight three keys that appealed to me within this documentary.

  1. The most impressionable part of the series, to me, is Jordan’s work ethic. As fans in the ‘90’s, we were able to see the result of Jordan’s work ethic in real time. The series revealed a lot about the blood, sweat and tears that went into those 6 seasons behind the scenes. The background is not always painless, and nothing is ever perfect but consistently striving for perfection helps to create outcomes that are near perfect. Within professional services, we strive for perfection while acting as a catalyst to our client’s success but very rarely do our clients see the rigor behind our deliverables.
  2. Another part of this series that resonated with me is a single quote from Jordan explaining, “I never asked anyone to do anything that I wasn’t already doing myself”. This is a best practice for all leaders. The most successful firms are collaborative in nature, creating opportunity for everyone in the firm to make an impact while straying away from a traditional hierarchy. As a leader, I believe it is our duty to set the bar high across the firm so we can ensure our clients’ success.
  3. In episodes 7 and 8 of the series, Michael Jordan and Steve Kerr dive into their physical altercation that resulted in Jordan getting kicked out of practice. Jordan’s appetite to win and Steve Kerr’s retaliation created the perfect storm. While an altercation between two greats makes for good entertainment, their behavior after the incident is pure greatness. Jordan and Kerr made amends, moved on and ultimately built a stronger bond and a higher level of trust. Within any company, you will not see eye to eye with your colleagues 100% the time. Respect each other’s differences and move past them.

Greatness looks different for all of us, but as global citizens of the world, we all desire to be great at what we do. Within professional services, greatness is reflected in enhancing your clients. We can all take Jordan’s work ethic and leadership principles and apply it to our servant mentalities. This has the potential to make us the best version of ourselves while making our clients great.

 

The Last Dance. Directed by Jason Hehir. ESPN Films, Netflix, Mandalay Sports Media, NBA Entertainment. 2020. Netflix.
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