A few weeks after Caleb Martin joined the Miami Heat, he didn’t yet have much social capital with his teammates. But he had been a backup player for most of his career who knew that it was important to get along with the stars — and Jimmy Butler, a six-time All-Star and the team’s leading scorer, was unquestionably Miami’s biggest.
Martin had heard that Butler had an aggressive personality, that he was known to bark at teammates and coaches. But Martin wasn’t thinking about the potential consequences of upsetting Butler during a pickup game on one of those early days. He made a move just as Butler was passing to him, and the ball sailed out of bounds. Martin could tell Butler was frustrated. He marched up to Butler and said, “Anything you got a problem with, come say it to me.”
For a split second, Martin wondered if his boldness would irritate Butler. He wasn’t even on a full-time N.B.A. contract yet. But it didn’t.
“He didn’t view it as disrespectful or nothing like that,” Martin said. “As much accountability as he puts on other people and holds other people to, he holds himself to it. It’s a two-way street. He allows feedback.”
Butler’s reputation for being brash and aggressive is not without merit, and he has called out Martin’s mistakes plenty of times. Butler doesn’t shy away from airing his grievances, yelling in team huddles, at opponents, or sometimes at nothing at all. He’s just as loud with his encouragement.
The Heat’s opponent in the N.B.A. finals, the Denver Nuggets, have a different type of leader in Nikola Jokic, who is quieter. He doesn’t make speeches or chastise his teammates, and he rarely shows much emotion during games.
Their contrasting styles illustrate ideas that leadership experts have highlighted for decades. The underlying ethos that both players follow seems to matter more than how their leadership manifests.
“It’s such a great example of avoiding this sort of static concept of ‘what does it mean to be the best kind of leader?’” said Peter Bregman, an author and executive coach who works with leaders of major corporations. “Because here you have two completely different people who lead in very, very different ways, equally effectively. And so it sort of betrays this concept that there’s a best practice in how to do this.”
Professional basketball offers a helpful guide to understanding leadership. The best N.B.A. players make split-second decisions in front of thousands of people live and millions more who watch on television. Their actions off the court are scrutinized, and sometimes they are blamed for their teammates’ mistakes. But no matter the results of their decision-making, they must often return to lead the very same people the next day.
When Nuggets players are asked about Jokic’s leadership style, they say he leads by example, more than with words.
“He’s professional in every aspect of the game,” Nuggets guard Kentavious…
Read More: Jimmy Butler and Nikola Jokic Led Their Teams to the NBA Finals in Very 2023-06-07 04:01:24