Leslie Ungar, The Inner Brilliance of Electric Impulse, Inc.

A Last Word About LeBron

Leslie’s Articles

5 Lessons to Protect Your Brand, Your Leadership, and Civility

Miami welcomes LeBron James to the Heat, and begins a new chapter in their South Beach history. Cleveland closes the last chapter on its seven-year flirtation with Camelot. Everyone from President Obama to the LeBron James Grandmother’s Club has weighed in on “The Decision” and its hurricane like aftermath.

Basketball aficionados, former NBA legends such as Air Jordan and Sir Charles, fans, and usually disinterested civilians have all registered their opinions. Outside of the basketball world, we can all learn from The Summer of LeBron. The lessons go beyond the rectangular hardwood court. The lessons apply to our home court professional and personal advantage.

  • Protect Your Brand
  • Chosen One-Third
  • We Are All Witnesses
  • From King to Three Kings
  • Burned Bridges

1. Protect Your Brand

Protecting your Brand is like losing weight. The first challenge is to lose weight. The second challenge is to keep it off, which takes a 24/7 Herculean effort. They are two separate challenges often masquerading as one. With a Brand, the first challenge is to build the Brand. The second challenge is to protect the Brand. They are two separate challenges often masquerading as one. Protecting Your Brand takes a 24/7 Herculean effort. A Brand is a living organism.

For a professional athlete, their Brand is not just about how they play the game. When Kobe got in legal trouble, it was off-court antics that threatened his Brand. How a mega star athlete dresses either enhances or hurts their Brand. To Protect Your Brand, attend powerful meetings with powerful people in powerful dress. T-shirt, sweatpants and backpack do not protect Your Brand.

2. Chosen One-Third

Movies, novels, and TV shows often worship the role of the leader. Whether the leader is the president, coach, CEO, or captain the leader gets the credit and gets the criticism. It takes a whole team to win or lose, but we blame the quarterback for the throw or the coach for the play. In business, we need to correctly identify leaders from followers. The business world needs both, but we need them to be in their rightful position.

LeBron has a tattoo that says, The Chosen One. When he chose to come to Miami, he chose to be one of three. So now he is the Chosen One-Third. He prefers to play with two equals rather than stand above the team. Leaders need followers and followers need leaders. Companies, fans, and voters just need to make sure they identify correctly.

3. We Are All Witness

“Witness” was a ten story, 212 foot wide Nike Billboard that stood as a testimonial to those who were “witness” to the skills of LBJ. Within days of “The Decision” Nike had removed the sign, the final step in a process to remove LeBron James from the identity of Cleveland.

Aren’t we all “witness” to something? “Witness” to a success, an innovation, an effective presentation, a kind gesture, a fun evening. Perhaps we need to take better stock of what we “witness” everyday by the men and women who figuratively take the ball when there are two minutes left to play.

4. From King to Three Kings 

Since LeBron was in high school he has been King James. Now Miami has Three Kings. Most kings don’t give up their throne willingly. Leadership is lonely and being the “man” perhaps had lost its luster. There is a pressure to be the guy whom much is always expected.

There is an allure to be “one of” instead of the “one”. Let another guy feel the pressure. When you are no longer the man who gets the ball, you are no longer the man. You can’t be both leader and one of the guys. You are either alpha dog or one of the pack. Every sled dog on the tundra is important to the success of the expedition. But not every pack dog is a leader.

5. Burned Bridges

From the time we are in elementary school our parents told us not to burn bridges. As human beings, we must be geneticaly predisposed to do just that: burn baby burn.

As much as technology expands our world, it also reduces its size. The smaller our world the more consequences for the bridges we burn. In our own world, a student we made fun of becomes the boss, the co-worker buys the company, and so it goes. Is there any one over the age of thirty who has not had to eat crow? Perhaps there is a reason that no athlete went on TV to declare their choice. Besides burning jerseys, there were a lot of burned bridges in Cleveland.

The Robert Redford character Hubbell in The Way We Were, represented a post war America. He, like his country, wanted things to come easy and fast. Fifty years later we still want things easy and fast. When will we learn that it takes time to Protect our Brand, Protect Leadership,and to Protect civility?