Leading without your star players

Chicago Bulls logo

Chicago Bulls logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Chicago Bulls were eliminated from the NBA playoffs this past week. After defeating the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs, the Bulls fell to the defending champion Miami Heat in the second round. Even though the Bulls lost in the second round of the playoffs, the team had much to be proud of this season. You see, the Bulls played the entire season without their all-star guard, Derrick Rose. The loss of Rose, Rookie of the Year in 2009, an all-star in 2010, and the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2011, would have devastated most teams. But the Bulls kept battling. Then, they lost two other valuable players, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich; but the Bulls kept battling. Without three of their best players, the Bulls defeated the Brooklyn Nets and advanced to the second round series against the Miami Heat. The Bulls, then, did the unimaginable and beat the Heat in game one of their playoff series.

So, how does a team lose three of its best players, including one of the league’s most valuable players, and still perform well enough to advance in the playoffs? Teamwork really is an amazing thing. And the Bulls remind us that success for most of our organizations is not about an individual or a superstar. Success rather is about our teams coming together and supporting each other. It’s about our teams working hard and being unselfish. It’s about individuals not caring about the glory or the recognition, but rather making the team’s goals their number one priority. It’s about leaders who don’t make excuses and don’t allow their teams to make them either. It’s about leaders who stay positive in the face of adversity and who believe their teams can accomplish great things even when they have a setback. It’s about leaders who are determined and persistent and who communicate a vision to their teams so their teams can see a bright future.

The loss of a star performer can be a significant challenge for our organizations and for us as leaders. But, as the Chicago Bulls showed us, it is also an opportunity for teamwork to prevail; it is an opportunity for us to pull our teams together and lead them to success through unselfish teamwork. When we lose a star performer (or even three like the Bulls!) we have a choice: we can be a leader who quits and is defeated by this extreme challenge, or we can be a leader who raises our team up and shows them that anything is possible if we work together. Which will you choose?

Thanks for reading,
Jim

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