Leadership Lessons in Classlessness and Class

Posted 07.12.2010

Lebron2 Last week, in my post, Five Signs You Might Be a Tool, I made a passing reference to the way that LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers. During the televised LeBron-a-thon, I lost count of how many times he used the words, me, my, mine and I to say nothing of referring to himself in the third person. Of course, the capper was when he told the interviewer Jim Gray that of the six NBA teams that had been recruiting him, the only one that knew his decision at that moment was the one that he planned to play for. A few seconds later, he announced that it was the Miami Heat. I immediately said to my wife, “That’s not the way you let your employer know that you’re taking a new job.” Classless.

Apparently, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert thought the same thing because it wasn’t long before he had posted a scathing open letter to the Cavs’ fans on the team’s official web site. In it, he rips James every which way from Sunday and then promises the Cleveland fans that his energy “will be directed at one thing and one thing only: DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue….”  When I read between the lines of Gilbert’s letter, it comes across as a somewhat desperate attempt to deflect any anger or blame that the Cavs fans might feel towards him for not delivering that championship during the seven years that LeBron played in Cleveland. Once again, classless.

Bobsheppard In contrast to the seedy and classless drama engineered by James and Gilbert, this weekend marked the passing of Bob Sheppard. Unless you’re a New York Yankees fan or a long time lover of baseball, you may not have heard of him.  For the better part of 50 years, he was on the public address system at the House That Ruth Built as the voice of the Yankees. There was no flash or contrived drama in the way that Sheppard called the game. It was simply consistent perfection in his craft. Listen to his voice on this tribute video.  More importantly, listen to and look at the way so many Yankee greats express their affection and appreciation for what Sheppard did and how he did it. It wasn’t about him, it was about the work and facilitating the work of others. That’s one definition of leadership. It’s definitely a definition of class.

So, what’s your take? Any other lessons to be learned from the LeBron drama? Better yet, how about sharing your nominations for classy leaders? Who are they and why are you nominating them?