Leadership Lessons from the NBA – When Bold Moves are Required, Leaders Don’t Care About Popularity

Leadership Lessons from the NBA – The Surprisingly Aware Richard Jefferson

Weeks after being acquired by the San Antonio Spurs, star NBA forward Richard Jefferson was scheduled to marry his redundantly named fiancé, Kesha Ni’Cole Nichols, last Saturday. As you’ve likely heard, Jefferson, late of the New Jersey Nets, got cold feet and called the wedding off just hours before he was scheduled to become Mr. Ni’Cole Nichols.

While most in the blogosphere have lined up to crucify Jefferson for his last minute email to Nichols calling off the nuptials, the editors of AskTheManager.com believe he showed great leadership in recognizing a bad decision and rectifying it before it was too late. (Of course, there are reports he spent more than $2 million on the wedding that never happened, so we’re not entirely sure he couldn’t have made the decision a few weeks earlier.)

Leaders Make Decisive Moves

While Jefferson spent more than $2 million on the ceremony, he likely saved himself millions more by avoiding the inevitable divorce from KNN. Many have called him a coward, though we call him bold.

A coward, you see, wouldn’t want to face his fiancé, her family, his family, their friends and the rest of the world with the embarrassing news that he made a bad decision in asking her to marry him. A coward, you see, would live with his bad decision and compound it with more and more bad decisions for the rest of his life. Leaders are bold enough and comfortable enough with their own abilities to say “I screwed up, and this is how I’m going to fix it.”

Leaders Do What’s Right

The popular move for Jefferson would have been to go through with the wedding and make the best of a bad marriage. Certainly millions of others before him have done just that. Jefferson, for whatever reason, stepped up and did what was right – that’s what leaders do. Leaders care about popularity only when it doesn’t get in the way of what is right, and marrying someone you just don’t love isn’t right.