How Do You Lead Today’s Rock Stars?

The NBA Championship is over, yet there is a lot of chatter about the tense relationship between LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers coach, David Blatt.  After observations regarding body language and confirmation that James called for substitutions and dismissed plays, more and more is being made about the deteriorating relationship.

Larry Brown, long-time coach of many stars like Reggie Miller and Allen Iverson, had this to say:

“The first thing players want to know is whether you can coach.  Then they want to know if you can give them a chance to win.  Finally, they want to know if you care.  And that last one is really vital.  Things aren’t like they were 20 years ago.  It’s a different kind of kid we’re dealing with now, and we all have to learn to adjust.”

In today’s corporate environment, we ask leaders to lead rock stars as well as multiple generations.

How do we help that leader adjust in order to be successful?

Get Together

As a leader responsible for many different types and levels of employees, you must be able to flex your approach to the situation and the individual.  In order to do so, you have to know your employees and what is meaningful to them; so you must spend time with them.

Making time to get together is just as critical for a vital direct report as it would be for an important client or internal customer.  Just as you would create time for a client, you have to find the time to get face-to-face with your employees.

Support Continuous Learning

A study done by Instructure, Inc., found the majority of managers “take attributes such as work ethic and attitude into the highest consideration when hiring millennials, but they still find entry-level employees lacking in these key areas.”

As Larry Brown indicated we are dealing with a different kind of kid now, it’s not just a millennial or a generation issue.  Our expectations of new entrants into the workforce has changed and, as a result, what it takes to be successful in a career setting has also changed.

Today’s leaders must recognize learning cannot stop with a diploma, and corporate learning programs have to be ready to absorb the soft and technical skill needs—and do so in a variety of ways.

See the Big Picture

A leader’s ability to make a difference in an organization is often centered around if they can influence a broader view—and to do so they must see the big picture.  One tactic credited to consultant Rob Kaiser is to take a problem and see how it impacts two levels above and below you.  Having the broader perspective allows you to set expectations and drive performance over a larger group.

Today’s leaders have to understand the problem but not be heads-down trying to solve it.  They must have the ability to see the bigger picture and thereby influence a decision that will be impactful for many versus few.

When asked specifically about his relationship with James, Blatt said: “For me, it’s always been about finding ways to help him reach his goals, which is exactly what we want here in the team and in the organization.”

As a leader of rock stars and generations, your ability to adjust is crucial as, ultimately, it IS about winning the championships that matter to each individual, team and organization.

FOT Background Check

Kathy Rapp
Kathy Rapp is the President of hrQ, where she helps companies find groovy HR Talent or HR Consultants to drive business results.  Prior to joining hrQ, Kathy booked more than 15 years of human resources leadership experience working for such companies as Morgan Stanley and First Data Corporation.  A connoisseur of the intersection between pop culture and business, Kathy believes many talent issues can be addressed via the succession planning lessons experienced by Van Halen  (David Lee/Sammy and sadly, Gary Cherone).


  1. It is indeed crucial to be able to adjust and to focus on what truly matters to each individual, team and organization. This implies meeting the people face to face and understanding their needs. Once you manage to find what motivates them, you are on the right track.

  2. Chelita says:

    Nice post!If I may add; I think getting back to bcasis is just what we need in order to refresh our mind and not think about anything non-work related. But I still think there’s a productivity tool that’s not just for organizing but for tracking time and monitoring work.I’m quite fond of a reliable time tracking tool that’s called . I’m working from home and yes, the huge thing I love about it is FLEXIBILITY. And this kind of software is just what I need to make sure that I stay motivated and I’d still be productive no matter what.

  3. Your’s is the intelligent approach to this issue.

    • Charl says:

      I never thought I would find such an everyday topic so eniglarltnh!

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