Leadership Observations From The Miami Heat

You may or may not be a fan of the NBA. I know that I tend to get a bit more interested in the league around playoff times. It seems in professional basketball…it’s all about the playoffs.

There’s a lot of news coming out of the Miami Heat. Expectations had been high at the start of this season because of the superstar team they had put together. Having acquired both LeBron James and Chris Bosh to complement an already all-star caliber, Dwyane Wade, there was anticipation of greatness.

But things haven’t gone as expected (or at least hoped). First off, they aren’t winning games. Secondly, they aren’t playing that well as a team. Finally, there’s conflict in the ranks.

As I casually observe what’s happening within the Miami Heat organization, I see a growing need for leadership. Here’s what I mean…

  • You can bring together the most talented people in the your area, but talent doesn’t necessarily translate into chemistry. Talent is beneficial when you’re by yourself, chemistry is crucial when you work with others. Without team chemistry, a person’s talent may actually work against what the team is trying to accomplish.
  • The best teams have people who understand what their roles are. In the case of the Miami Heat, you have two players (James and Wade) who have both been leaders on teams, but aren’t quite sure who is going to assume the role on this team.
  • A good team member knows when to assert leadership and when to submit to leadership. It seems that the Heat players, while they like each other, haven’t been able to figure out who needs to lead at certain times and in certain situations.
  • When crisis comes to a team, it’s the leader’s job to step up and take responsibility. At this point, the players have begun to question the coach’s ability to get them to play together. They have stated that “he is not letting them be themselves, that they are questioning his offensive strategies, and that they think he is panicking because he fears losing his job.” (ESPN – 11/29)
  • Everyone recognizes that this team has a lot of potential. Good leadership turns potential into performance.
  • Momentum and success make problems seem smaller and easier to manage. Without momentum or success, problems appear insurmountable. Basically, if the Heat were winning games, these issues wouldn’t seem as pressing.
  • What worked for your competition may or may not work for you. The Boston Celtics found great and continued success by going out and bringing a trio of all star players onto their team. They won a championship and seem poised for another great season. It seems the Heat have attempted to copy that formula, but haven’t found a way to implement it with the same level of success. The difference is the people involved. That’s why leadership is so crucial. A formula or strategy must be adapted for the people on team.
  • The first step to solving a problem is to identify what the problem really is. This quote from the ESPN article is hopefully a good step in the right direction for turning the Heat’s performance around: “While the players think that may mean a coaching change, one member of the Heat organization said the team is suffering from a lack of leadership from the players, not the coach.””They don’t want to step on each other’s toes,” the person said. “There’s no leader on the team. Somebody has to speak up and be the leader on the team. They can’t be afraid to step on people’s toes. They need a vocal leader who’s going to make everybody accountable. I don’t think it’s on the coach. It’s on the players.”

At this point, it looks like one of the Heat players will need to step up and assume a more prominent leadership role on the team. While it’s been Wade’s team up to this point, it appears that Lebron James will need to be the one who fills this spot. The only question will be if Wade is ready to become the Scottie Pippen to James’ Michael Jordan.

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