The Management Lesson Of Michael Jordan
The best are those who listen.
I’m reading Roland Lazenby’s biography of Michael Jordan, “Michael Jordan: The Life” (review coming soon on Superception).
While the most gifted basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan always showed great ability to listen. This was motivated by his unquenchable thirst for continuous improvement and the education received from his mother.
Whenever he took an important step in his career, first by joining the University of North Carolina and then the Chicago Bulls, he always started by listening to his coaches and wasn’t shy to ask them how he could improve his game.
His successive coaches mention his ability to learn as his most impressive attribute, beyond even his basketball talent and physical gifts. It took only one conversation with him.
In the book, Jordan is quoted saying: “My greatest skill was being teachable. I was like a sponge. Even if I thought my coaches were wrong, I tried to listen and learn something.”
This behavior reflects an essential character trait demonstrated by Michael Jordan throughout his career: As Lazenby puts it, Jordan remained focused not on what he had, but on what he didn’t have. This is why he spent so much more time than his teammates training and practicing. He always wanted to improve his game.
The best are those who listen because they always want to learn. Their dissatisfaction with their own performance knows no limits and is their prime motivator.