Lebron James, a tribe leader

Posted on Tuesday.5.12.2009


I finally got a chance to watch Seth Godin’s Tribe talk on TED.com. Seth Godin is the author of the most popular marketing blog in the world. Check out the link in my blogroll if you want to read some of his thoughts.


His Tribes talk got me thinking about how much I love Lebron James. I know it’s sort of like heresy being from Southern California and not being Kobe’s #1 fan. I love Kobe, but there’s something about Lebron that has always been extremely inspiring. So when I heard Seth Godin talk about the future of where he thinks marketing, leadership, community and collaboration are headed, I thought of Lebron.

Here are the reasons why Lebron James should be a poster child for Seth Godin:

Three things that leaders do when leading a tribe (notes from the talk)

1. Challenge the status quo: This is a no-brainer. Lebron has challenged status quo since he was being compared to Michael Jordan when he was 13 years old. The Cavs had a seven-year drought in the playoffs and hadn’t won a playoff series in 12 years before Lebron arrived. They’ve just swept through the first two rounds of the playoffs and are the frontrunners to challenge the Lakers in the finals. He’s improved every facet of his game especially his shooting and defense and has never accepted just being a great player. He wants to win a championship.
2. Establish culture: Lebron has created a secret code with the Cavs. He’s created his own individual pre-game traditions (throwing of the chalk) that fans hold their breath for and cameras flash before every home game. He’s also created team rituals before games and has a team handshake which all add to building the culture necessary for success to happen. He seems to have a curiosity for the people and is able to connect his teammates really easily. They have a lot of fun on the court and recently made a pretty funny video parodying the Heineken beer fridge commerical. Personally, I think this is one of the most difficult things a leader must do. Mixing fun with work either comes off extremely energizing or extremely cheesy. Finding that balance is where culture lives.
3. Commit to the cause: Lebron is committed, maybe more this year than any other. He won his first MVP award and has not let his team drop a playoff game. I’m sure Mike Brown (Cavs Head Coach) has something to do with that too. But even Mike Brown is the first to say how much Lebron has been committed to winning and excellence in their games and game plans.

So what do you think? Is Lebron the tribe leader that Seth Godin is talking about? Or am I just clouded by all of his ridiculous highlights? I hope his leadership is as much of an inspiration to you as it is to me.


Posted in: leadership