How to Create Champions like The Cleveland Cavaliers (prt. 8 of the Good Boss-Bad Boss Series

Create a championship culture at your company

Create a championship culture at your company

The Cleveland Cavaliers are NBA World Champions. People throughout the world, many of whom don’t follow basketball much (like me), took notice, clapped, and saluted this team because everyone loves an underdog, a feel-good story, and an example of overcoming the odds. The Cavaliers were the ultimate underdogs. They were in a city that hadn’t won a championship in basketball, football, or baseball in over 52 years. To say that Cleveland teams were cursed and their fans jaded would be an understatement. How then did they turn it around and what can a good boss, leader, or company learn from this incredible team?  

Sometimes in Business a Leader has to admit their mistakes 

LeBron James is the superstar on this team. He is the beloved homegrown native of their blue collar town and people simply believe he walks on water. But a few years ago he left them for a bigger payday and a chance to win a championship in Miami. Feelings were hurt, bad things were said by the Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and by LeBron about Mr. Gilbert. It was pretty ugly. LeBron won his rings in Miami. The Cavs, on the other hand, didn’t do too well without Mr. James. However, after his contract was up, Mr. Gilbert and Mr. James made amends, and worked out a deal that once again made LeBron a Cleveland Cavalier. Yesterday they won a World Championship because they had LeBron.

Business Lesson: Stay in touch with your superstars or individuals who were both productive and good team fits for your organization if they depart. Keep them on your birthday and Christmas card list and if needed iron out any differences you may have had - before you need them, or they need you.

Superstars can Inspire Their Teammates to Perform at Higher Levels 

The Cavs team was built around LeBron. His performance in the final two games of the series was pivotal in the Cavs bringing home the championship trophy. Lebron’s 41 points played a key role, but more importantly his play, hustle and passion raised the performance of every one of his teammates. They played harder with slightly more passion, and it contributed to their performance in rebounds, assists, and total points. Cavs head coach Tyronne Lue created offensive schemes allowing LeBron to perform at his best.  Thus, allowing the entire team to raise their game to higher levels as well.

Business Lesson: Challenge your superstars and high performers to do their best, anoint them to be leaders. In other words, Get Your Best to Provide their Best for the Rest.

Me, We and Something Bigger Than these Two

Dan Gilbert was wise to get LeBron back on the Cavs roster. The team and the city were excited to have their prodigal son back home. However, Mr. Gilbert, the front office, LeBron and his teammates heard the talk by the pundits and doubters about not winning a championship for 52 years. They knew how many loyal fans were dejected, disappointed, and downright depressed over being constantly reminded of the failures of the Browns, Indians, and Cavalier teams to bring a championship trophy back to the city of Cleveland and being dubbed as the curse of Cleveland. LeBron wanted to win not just for himself, and his teammates, but for the city of Cleveland, the state of Ohio and every fan that had suffered the 52-year drought.

Business Lesson: Find Something that is bigger than you, your best employee or your team to motivate them to do, to be better. Things such as a donation to a children’s hospital, a donation in the teams name to a charity selected by the team and paid for by the company, extra days off or get-away trips for internal members, and spouses when the team achieves an annual goal.

The Cleveland Cavaliers became World Champions because they built a strong foundation (business engine), high expectations (goals), the right people on and off the court (internal-external team) and a cause that was bigger than just basketball (a calling, a mission, a cause) What are you doing as a good boss, leader and company that will lead you to overachieve your goals and become a champion?

Leadership Principle # 8

Good Bosses, Leaders & Companies build winning cultures through a definitive business model that is the basis for their success & is communicated by all in the organization are All In.


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