LeBron James: 2 Lessons in Crisis Management

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The line between love and hate is still thin. Lessons learned from the recent LeBron James "Decision" saga are multi-layered. Let's discuss a couple.

Leaving is worse than being left

It's easy to forget pro athletes are simply employees. I didn't say they make what regular employees make, but they are employees none the less. They have a boss (team owner), they have a manager (team coach), and they have colleagues (fellow teammates). Anytime you don't sign your own check, you work for someone else.

That being said, rather curious is the increasing anger coming out of Cleveland. In essence, an employee of the Cleveland Cavaliers simply decided to take another job opportunity. What is more disturbing is the haste with which owner Dan Gilbert released his sharp letter. One has to wonder whether his letter was pre-written, along with its supportive opposite. It seems as if both were sitting on a table waiting for deployment. It's a thin line.

Would the reaction have been as personally targeted had Gilbert decided not to renew James' contract? Of course not, employers are expected to make difficult decisions.

LeBron played with fire - unnecessarily

Concerning LeBron, he is learning a critical lesson. A crisis can be positive and negative at the same time. While he is being welcomed in one city, another city has all but outlawed his name. How could he have reduced the severity of negative reactions? Very simply.

The problem with LeBron's media campaign is he became his own context. Let me explain.

When making a decision with grave implications, you must work to create context for the onlooking public. In this way, you avoid becoming an island. During his ESPN interview, LeBron should have memorized 3-4 historical figures, in sports or business, who made major, controversial decisions that turned out well. He should have placed his decision within historical context.

One has to be seen as following wisdom not creating it.

 

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