Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Charismatic Move that Almost Worked

In this Q & A session, researcher on charisma and charismatic leadership, Edward Brown of Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute, provides insight into Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh and their attempt to create a NBA championship team.

Q: What makes this experiment to put an NBA championship team together by Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, a charismatic move?

A: It was the first time in recent history, if ever, the proletariat (players) got together to control the means of production (NBA team owners) by creating a brand that could have upset the balance of power. Charismatic leaders often create a vision contrary to the status quo in their quest for power.

Q: In this trio, who is the charismatic leader?
A: There are no real compelling personalities within this trio, but the idea was a charismatic move. The decision for three basketball stars to get together and basically create a basketball team within the NBA system is tantamount to the good old days in street basketball, where one individual (who had the next game) would try to create a powerhouse team by getting all the best available players to become undefeatable on the court. Generally within the NBA, the team coach, scout, and owner try to structure a franchise that has the best chances for a championship win within the salary caps that are available. The move by this trio upended the current system.

Q: What does it mean that the experiment by these players fell short in that they did not win the 2011 NBA Championship?
A: In a practical sense, there is always next year. Viewing the situation from another angle, the three players proved a point that individuals could make creative, charismatic moves inside a traditionally-oriented organization. To almost win the 2011 NBA Championship on an idea concocted by a group of individuals is a phenomenal feat in itself. The NBA owners have to at least consider what the choice for NBA players forming their own team means in terms of power. On one hand, it would appear that power rests with individual players coming together to create a new reality. On the other hand, allowing players (employees) to become creative within a company does not take away from the power of the organization, it enhances it. It was Art Fry at 3M Company that created the Post-It note pad as an entrepreneurial venture inside the 3M Company. From the success of Post-Its, 3M encouraged employees to become more creative as part of 3M’s operational philosophy. To truly upset the means of production, an employee has to have a compelling idea within his own company that competes against a strong established brand. NBA owners do not envision NBA players starting their own teams and restructuring how business is done. It can happen and maybe this trio planted the seed for other players to look past merely being basketball players, but owners within the NBA system.

Q: What do you think is the chance of NBA players becoming owners within a system they play in?
A: Again, it is a novel idea. Two points come to mind: 1.Rapper LL Cool J said it best when he said that just because you can make a cake, does not mean you can operate a bakery. Playing basketball and operating a basketball franchise are totally different, 2. If a rule within the NBA suggested that players cannot own teams, the idea would die an immediate death. An organization is not going to create rules that will lead to its own demise. It will close its doors first.

Q: Although the trio is not necessarily charismatic, their idea was charismatic. How can ideas be charismatic?
A: The Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute defines charisma as “The creating of perceptions that impact the mind and emotions of others through flair, finesse, and glib language.” Lebron James’ self initiated recruitment tour that prompted NBA teams to audition for his services captured the imagination of the sports industry. The surprising revelation that James, Wade, and Bosh had collaborated behind the scene for all of them to play basketball in Miami was even more surprising. There was a great deal of flair and finesse as well as chicanery for the sake of entertainment. Invariably, this was a great win for the NBA as a whole. When the biggest myth makers and cheerleaders are the employees, you truly have an organization where all the stakeholders are dedicated to the brand. After all, we are still talking about basketball—child’s play.

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