A story that circulated in Chicago during the Bulls Jordan era was very insightful for leaders.
The irony of that exchange is that they both are right. The best “I’s” – the “I’s” being the leaders – have the ability to turn “I” to “we.”
In the first of Jordan’s six NBA championships the Bulls had to beat Magic Johnson’s Lakers in the final round. As a 34-year college basketball coach at the time, I was at the first game and watched Jordan score 37 points, only to have the Bulls lose 93-91. They had to play the very next day and as I drove to the Chicago Stadium, I wondered how Jordan would approach the game.
Jordan, the “I”, the leader, I believed, could have scored 50 points against the Lakers. Instead, he began the game by taking only one shot in the entire first quarter.
He knew the “I” – as great as that “I” was – could not beat the Lakers by himself. He had to involve all his teammates. He had to turn the “I” to we. The Bulls won that second game 107-86 and went on to win the next three in a row in their run to the championship.
The attitude of the leader does make a difference and the great “I’s” have the ability to turn their “I” into an organizational’ “we”….just as Jordan did.