Michael Jordan. It’s safe to say he’s one of the greatest basketball players of all time, if not the greatest. But that’s not what we are here to discuss – this post is about his career off the court.
After his successful run as a basketball player, Jordan wanted to transition from leader on the court to leader in the business operations side of basketball.
It has not been an easy move.
Jordan joined the Washington Wizards team as President of Basketball Operations and part owner in 2000. During his first full season in that position, his team only won 19 games. In hopes he could jump-start the team, Jordan made a few controversial personnel moves. Opinions of Jordan as a basketball executive were immediately mixed among fans and the media.
On top of that, instead of focusing on developing the talent of the team, Jordan decided he should help the team win by playing for the team. He still had his amazing talent on the court, but he also suffered a few injuries. He eventually retired once and for all at the age of 40.
Jordan assumed he would return to his front office position with the Wizards after his retirement on the court. However, his previous tenure in the front office was deemed not a success and the Wizards owner fired Jordan.
Jordan is an example of a top performer attempting to make the transition from performer to manager. This is a problem not just reserved in the basketball arena, many companies struggle with this kind of transition.
New managers have to shift from producing results themselves to getting the best results from others. Jordan’s role as a basketball executive called for others to perform, not take charge personally like he did when he was a player.
After Washington fired him, many assumed Jordan’s time with basketball operations was finished. It wasn’t. Jordan eventually got involved in the operations side of the Charlotte Bobcats team in 2006. Like his time at Washington, Jordan faced criticism for some of his personnel decisions off the bat.
Despite the critics, Jordan became majority owner of the Bobcats in 2010. Unlike his role in Washington, no one can fire Jordan but himself.
Jordan is still adored for his time on the basketball court, but it appears he still has a lot to learn about being an owner and a leader. But people can develop a knack for leading people, as long as they have the right training and support.
No matter how famous they are, leaders could always use a dose of feedback. Jordan could benefit by instilling a feedback culture in his office. Implementing 360 Feedback could help Jordan recognize weaknesses and shortcomings, along with leveraging strengths.
And as Jordan admitted in an old quote, failure is part of the game.
“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 25 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed,” said Michael Jordan.
What are your thoughts about Michael Jordan as a basketball business executive?