A couple of weeks ago, Charles Barkley, basketball analyst with a robust personality and an opinion to match, continued his trademark penchant for controversy by negatively commenting on Michael Jordan. Charles pulled no punches in telling the world that Michael didn’t know how to evaluate personnel.
It was Chuck’s opinion that Michael, as the executive in charge of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats, desperately needed someone to tell him the truth. See, Michael, the greatest basketball player of all time, is a horrific evaluator of talent and his Bobcats reflect it in the standings. Sir Charles, as he is known, made it clear that Michael’s iconic status as the greatest baller of all has resulted in nobody questioning his ability to evaluate talent. Either at Michael’s behest, or because of his status, there are no shortages of “yes men” in Michael’s circle. Either Michael’s ego crowds out others’ opinions or everyone is bowing to MJ’s legacy. In either instance his team sucks. Chuck’s right.
Because you can play doesn’t mean you can coach. Because you can sell, doesn’t mean you can manage. Because you sleep in the garage doesn’t make you a car. Too many executives, upon being knighted “the boss,” seem to stop learning. Reaching the corner office of one’s profession doesn’t end the journey – it begins it. What you did in the past may have gotten you there, but what you do going forward will keep you there. The disciplines needed to climb the corporate ladder are considerably different than what keeps an executive balanced at the top.
Wherever you currently call home on the org. chart, do yourself a favor and seek the truth. Remind those around you that you don’t want people to tell you what you want to hear. You want the truth. The truth will allow you to better yourself and the organization. It’s not about individual ego; it’s about the success of the organization. In the world of credit unions, it’s about making the members’ lives better and putting more money in their pockets. That takes honest interaction.
I know a guy right now who is burying his organization. His ego and his cavalier attitude distance people and derail the corporate mission. All of his talented guard stand around waiting for his singular voice to direct them as to what’s next. His “yes” moves the organization – everyone else is just fodder to fuel his ego. He’s a despicable jerk, and the organization is failing around him. He can’t point them in the right direction until he gets his arms and hands out front from patting himself on the back.
As usual, Charles’ commentary about Michael Jordan, albeit a little rough around the edges, hits the mark. With regard to the guy I know who is burying his organization – he’s worse off than Michael. At least Michael is beloved.