In a world without live sports because of the ongoing pandemic, to watch a show about a living legend and a dynasty that won six championships in eight years is a wonderful distraction. ESPN and Netflix’s The Last Dance is already a certified hit drawing over 6.1 million viewers when the show premiered. And if there’s anything we can take away from this docuseries, it’s that Michael Jordan has several lessons we can all learn from and use in our careers. Take a look!
Lesson: Don’t Hold Back Your Top Talent
Former University of North Carolina Basketball Head Coach, Dean Smith, is widely regarded as one of the best college basketball coaches in history, but he didn’t take advantage of his players on his way to greatness. After Michael Jordan’s 3rd year with the Tar Heels, he was planning to return for his senior year, but his coach recommended that he enter the NBA Draft.
Why would he tell his best player to leave early? Because it was the right thing to do. In business, you shouldn’t hold back your top talent for your own selfish reasons. If a great employee wants to embrace new challenges, then good leaders should encourage them. They shouldn’t hold them back in a lesser position because “that’s what’s best for the company.”
Lesson: Don’t Bet Against Your Company
In Jordan’s second year, he suffered a pretty serious ankle injury early in the season. Bulls management, not wanting to risk an even greater injury to their top player, took an extremely conservative approach to his return. That’s not always a bad thing, especially when it comes to safety. As Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf explained, why would you risk a career-ending injury for short term gain?
Management may have had ulterior motives, however, Jordan believed they were attempting to tank the season to gain a higher draft pick. That didn’t sit well with Jordan and soured his relationship with the executives for the rest of his career. The point? Don’t bet on your team to lose.
Chances are, you’ve had a project in the past that didn’t quite go as planned…maybe you didn’t make as much money as you’d hoped or there were some issues with the architect or owner. Any excuses you make to not do your best work can create a poor culture within your organization. Bumps in the road can be seen as an opportunity for the next excuse to cut corners or accept poor quality work. Not to mention, you could be reducing your company’s chances for repeat business, if the end of the project is a disaster.
Lesson: Treat Your People Fairly
Scottie Pippen, easily a top 5 NBA player in the mid-90s signed a horrific contract early in his career to the tune of 7 years, $18 million. I’m sure a lot of people would love to make this kind of money, but in relative terms, that’s way less than he should have been making. By the end of that contract, Pippen was the 122nd highest-paid player in the league, even though he was an integral part of the team’s 5 championships and they were about to win their 6th. Team General Manager, Jerry Krause, and owner, Reinsdorf, had a strict rule not to renegotiate contracts and they never broke that rule. Not even for Jordan, who was grossly underpaid up until his last 2 years on the team, as well.
This feeling of being undervalued led Pippen to act out in his final year for the Bulls. He delayed surgery until the beginning of the season, making him unavailable to play for the first couple of months, publicly and privately degraded Krause, and later demanded a trade. In the end, he finished the year with the Bulls, but it didn’t have to be so hard.
Your company may have rules when it comes to promotions or salaries, but to retain top talent, you have to be willing to pay them what they’re worth. Don’t hide behind some “corporate policy,” if someone on your team is truly worth it, treat them fairly and compensate them in a way that makes them feel valued.
Lesson: Don’t Let Your Ego Get in the Way
Jerry Krause deserves a lot of credit for building a strong Bulls team throughout the 90s. He made several roster moves to help complement Jordan’s abilities and those teams eventually dominated nearly the entire decade. After he decided to let Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson go, nearly the entire team left, as well. Jordan, Pippen, Rodman…all gone. So too, were any chances the team would be any good for the next few years. In the 22 seasons since the team was dismantled, the Bulls have not made it back to the Finals and only came close a couple of times.
There is never a bad time to keep on winning, but Krause thought he was the mastermind behind the championships and he could easily do it again. He let his ego get in the way and he was clearly wrong.
Construction executives should never believe that they’re bigger than the support team below them. Without the hardworking people in the offices and on the job sites, no construction projects would ever happen. Your name may be on the building and your business may have been in your family for decades, but there are no promises that if you lose your team, you’ll ever regain your original success. Ego has killed a lot of companies throughout history, don’t let yours be next.
Source: Construction Junkie