After the Mavericks stunned the Miami Heat to win the 2011 NBA Championship, NBA Commissioner David Stern went to present the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Traditionally, Stern would have handed the trophy to internet entrepreneur Mark Cuban, the winning team’s owner.
However, Cuban showed incredible class and leadership by allowing Don Carter, the original Maverick’s owners, to accept it. Such an action is un-precedented in professional sports. So what does this show about Cuban?
Carter brought professional basketball back to Dallas when he founded the Mavericks as an expansion team in 1980. Certainly, Cuban’s deference was a sign of gratitude for laying the original foundation for the Mavericks’ championship. Incidentally, Cuban did not purchase the team from Carter but rather from the team’s second owner, an investment group led by H. Ross Perot, Jr. However, Cuban’s act showed much more. It showed him to be a strong leader.
Even as infants, people have a need for achievement. Think of how proud children look when they show you their tower built of blocks. It is a genetically-based need. As children grow up, the need for achievement doesn’t diminish. In some, it remains well balanced but in others it reaches an unhealthy extreme.
A good leader looks to praise and share the limelight. In the extreme, however, when the need runs amok, the leader takes credit for everything, is showy and even may take bad risks to feed his or her insatiable achievement need. Cuban’s simple gesture showed that he has the right balance of this important aspect of leadership and has kept his ego in check despite all of his success.
Bravo and congrats on the Championship!