The Importance of Peer Leadership

peer leadershipHere is an older (2013), but entertaining article in the New York Times sports page regarding LeBron James and his new found ease.

The article asked numerous journalist to answer the question, “Do happy people make history?”

After this past NBA championship the answer appears to be yes, but there is no easy answer to the question and the article does not really try to give a definitive conclusion.

Instead, the varying journalists provide examples of both: athletes and coaches who are intense, competitive, and even cruel who win and are successful, as well as those who are kind and gracious yet also manage to succeed and create a legacy.

This one response caught my eye.

I had always credited Phil Jackson’s leadership and coaching style for Scottie Pippen’s quick return to both the Bulls lineup and the fan’s good graces after refusing to leave the bench in a playoff game.

He was important, but there was more to the story.

Harvey Araton adds to the story and gives a great example of peer leadership:

A 7-foot wide-body and a banger on court, Cartwright was so genial and unthreatening elsewhere that he once confronted a critical reporter (me) by pleading that his wife was upset with what had been written about him in the newspaper.

But in the locker room after that playoff game, he confronted Pippen — tears in his eyes, observers remembered. “Scottie,” he said. “How could you do that to us?”

Stunned by this naked display of distress, as opposed to a more predictable fury, Pippen immediately begged for his teammates’ forgiveness.

Pippen’s refusal to play threatened to make him a pariah in Chicago and haunt him forever, but it became a footnote to his Hall of Fame career as Jordan’s indispensable sidekick. And what Cartwright demonstrated that night was a welcome alternative to the notion that the greatest sportsmen must be driven, tortured and intimidating souls. — HARVEY ARATON

Now that’s peer leadership.