Lessons from LeBron: Are You MVP Material?

Kathy Rapp Kathy Rapp, Leadership

Dr. J, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – – and now LeBron James.  Named MVP of the NBA, LeBron is the 3rd youngest to ever win the award and quickly credited his coach and teammates saying, “Individual accolades come when team success happens”.  He had incredible stats on the offensive end and finished second in the voting for defensive player of the year.  Not too shabby.

While LeBron has many “natural” advantages (6′ 8″, 250 pounds and faster than a Cajun at a crawfish boil) his mental focus, work ethic, knowledge of his competition and commitment to team are the key drivers of his success.  Sound familiar?


So, how does this translate for HR pros looking to become MVPs at their organizations?  Allow me to break it down for you:

–Despite scoring 45 points in the finale last year, LeBron didn’t feel he had done enough.  So he went to work.  You reduced health care expenses by 20%, hired the top sales talent and developed your own successor last year.  Time to take a break?  No way.  As a top HR person you get to pat yourself on the back, make sure your self-eval highlights your results, and then move on.  You have to continue to push yourself.  Those at the top of their game compete within themselves and set personal goals to overachieve year after year.

LeBron is continuously cultivating his mental strength in addition to his physical strength – and just like Wilt Chamberlain feeling like he still had points to score after his 100 point game or Tiger Woods feeling he left strokes on the course after shooting a course record, LeBron is always looking to improve.  How do you develop that instinct in HR?

–LeBron also began lifting weights like never before, adding muscle to his frame.  What are you doing to add muscle?  Your workout should consist of reading the latest business books, adding to your professional network, finding mentors inside and outside HR, developing your financial acumen and keeping up with the latest tech trends in talent acquisition.  Remember – the lousy thing about this kind of workout is as soon as you stop working those muscles it takes twice as long to get back to where you need to be.  So, get to the weight room – pronto!

–During his workouts with the Olympic team, LeBron focused on refining his defensive game, often guarding the other team’s best player – regardless of position.  Who is the other team’s best player?  Do you know your peers at your competition?  In the HR game it isn’t about “guarding” but more about understanding what those in your space are doing and making an effort to build relationships.  It is also about honing your skills via learning from others and creating opportunities to share ideas.  A good defensive player is not afraid to sacrifice a bit of him/herself and sweat comes with the territory.  Deal with it.

Bottom line, a true HR MVP knows how to build their own career while at the same time elevating their team and propelling them to derive energy from each other.  By pushing each other to be better, the entire group is valuable.

Time to get out your high-tops and hit the gym – and always remember those who helped get you to a place of importance (expensive gifts not necessary)!