Are You Your Office’s Kobe Bryant?

kobe-bryantSince I saw Kobe Bryant play in a state championship game in Hershey, PA back in 1996, I have followed Kobe’s career. On the eve of his last appearance in Philadelphia, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on his skills and how they may translate into the workplace- both the good and bad- and how those skills could affect you.

The Good

  1. Passion– no one has ever questioned how much passion that Kobe brought to the court every day. Do you match his love of the game? Loving what you do typically yields fantastic results.
  2. Drive– Kobe believed that he needed to be the hardest working player in the NBA to excel. Are you a max effort person? Or do you coast once you have reached success? The best ones never settle and always push themselves harder.
  3. Worldliness- Being raised in Italy, Kobe brought a unique perspective to his career. He had many interests outside of basketball that helped him in his basketball life. Are you a one track minded person who obsesses over your career? Or are you well-read so you can have conversations about many topics of interest? Having a broad perspective is a big key to success.

The Bad

  1. Selfish- even with his diminished skills, Bryant leads his team in shots taken. Bryant needs to be the star regardless of the situation. Can you share the limelight or are you a piano tuner (always “me-me’-ing? A team will always achieve more when the individuals sacrifice for the good of the team. Don’t be the work ball hog.
  2. Difficult to Work With- there is a fine line between pushing people to be their best and crushing their spirit. There are loads of players who failed to carry the burden that Bryant put on them. Do you repel or attract colleagues? Do you find yourself explaining your actions to superiors instead of receiving accolades? Don’t be a bully. You may get short term results, but your team will never reach its fullest potential.
  3. Calculating- Kobe felt he was the smartest person in the room and made rash decisions because of it. Alienating Shaq not only caused Kobe to lose potential championships, he lost the ability to attract players to work with him. Do you dominate meetings, pushing your agenda, then find yourself backpedaling or blaming others when things don’t work out?

There are many other descriptions (egotistical, skilled, polished, arrogant) come to mind, but the last word is complex. No one could ever figure Kobe out- his rap album, his weird tattoo, and his obsession with Michael Jordan- and he never came across as genuine. This lead to him not being the beloved icon he could have been. Don’t be that person, be transparent, honest and open. That will make you a better player than Kobe.

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