3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Build Your Business Around a LeBron James



While the world was busy watching the 201 4 FIFA World Cup Championship weekend, many Americans were going crazy over a subtle #decision by NBA superstar LeBron James to leave the Miami Heat and return to his home and home team Cleveland Caveliers. For those of you who don’t follow basketball, LeBron James left Cleveland just four years ago to link up with fellow All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Four years and two championships later, LeBron is back in Cleveland and Miami is left scratching their head trying to figure out what’s the best next step to take.


If you don’t think this has a parrallel in the business world, think again. We live in a time where the average American spends four years in a given job.  At the same time, more and more companies face challenges with hiring to close skills gaps in the office and even more are silently stressing about (or even ignoring) the need for a solid succession plan. The immediate response for most companies is to go out and find a star player who can come in and make an immediate impact on the organization. Most of these individuals are knowledge workers who bring creative problem-solving and empowering leadership skills. But is it more important to hire big talent or create a stable business? Consider the following reasons why choosing a superstar might put your business make be great in the short-term but bad for longevity:

1) Star players want max compensation and can make salary-planning difficult for organizations working on a budget. Star players know their value and want to be paid what their worth – but is pay per performance always the best driver for success in an organization? In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Tom DiDonato says the following:

Performance reviews that are tied to compensation create a blame-oriented culture. It’s well known that they reinforce hierarchy, undermine collegiality, work against cooperative problem solving, discourage straight talk, and too easily become politicized. They’re self-defeating and demoralizing for all concerned. Even high performers suffer, because when their pay bumps up against the top of the salary range, their supervisors have to stop giving them raises, regardless of achievement.

One of the reasons why LeBron James left Miami is because he wanted a max compensation contract. Unfortunately, with two other All-Star players on the team, there just wasn’t enough money to go around. (Does that sound familiar?). If you pay based on performance and rely on high-performers rather than a strong systems approach to business, you’ll run the risk of your high performance (and high potential)  employees leaving you for greener pastures.


2) Star players are usually performers and not teachers. Is your corporate culture based on team-based problem solving or a more individualized pursuit of excellence? If you prefer a team-based culture then choosing to build your brand around one or two Super star employees could be prohibitive to the growth of your team. Unless your superstars are also great coaches and encouragers, you might find that a rift will exist between the upper echelon of your organization’s talent pool and the lower two-thirds. Kevin Kruse, NY Times best selling author and expert employee engagement consultant says the following about the importance of proper workplace coaching:

The entire idea of Feedforward Coaching is that it is a continuous process focused on future performance and career pathing—it’s not grading a year’s worth of past events; the manager serves as Coach, not Executioner.

One of the primary drivers of employee engagement is a sense of growth and development, and another is having a manager that cares about you.

Only time will tell just how good LeBron made the rest of his teammates and the same can be said when a superstar knowledge worker leaves your organization. If you want to make the most of hiring a superstar, make sure the coach and grow fellow colleagues so that your business continues to benefit from their presence after they’re gone.

3) What happens to your business when that star player is gone? If you’ve gotten this far in the article, you’ve probably concerned about protecting the stability and growth of your firm. So what’s the best way to be intentional about keeping things secure at your organization? Succession planning. Succession planning is defined as:

[A] process for identifying and developing internal people with the potential to fill key business leadership positions in the company. Succession planning increases the availability of experienced and capable employees that are prepared to assume these roles as they become available.


If you’re relying on a LeBron James to take your business to new level, you’ll get there… But what happens when he’s gone? Make the wise decision to identify and groom future leaders within your organization and in pipelines like college internship programs.

Do you have any succession planning tips to share? Leave a comment below.

What Every Small Business Can Learn From Opie and Anthony

On Thursday, July 3rd, 2014, Radio Shock Jock Anthony Cumia of the “Opie & Anthony” show was fired from his nationally syndicated SiriusXM show. Cumia, who recently celebrated 20 years of radio along with his radio co-host Greg Hughes, was fired for doing one thing we’re all tempted to do from time to time: ranting on social media.

To see the full story, click here.

Here are three things that your company should consider in light of this situation:

How would you handle an employee’s social media outburst? Do you have a legally defensible plan in place for how to handle employee’s outburst on social media? If you don’t have a policy in your employee handbook, it’s time to consider adding it.

An outburst can happen anywhere – and can come from anyone in your organization. Mr. Cumia is essentially one-half of a brand that has stood the test of time for over 20 years. Now that SiriusXM has decided to terminate their relationship, the Opie & Anthony show now has to figure out “what’s next.” How does a radio station handle this kind of succession planing? How would your firm handle a chief executive being let go for ranting like this?

Social media is public – and it doesn’t just “go away.” Your organization may be small now but there’s a chance that you’ll grow in the future. This means that comments made by employees could come back around and become a PR nightmare. A great resource for handling social media in the workplace is SHRM’s book that can be found here.


Does your company have a social media plan? Contact Jumpstart:HR, LLC today and learn more about how we can help!

Best Practices in Social Media Human Resources Policy from Jumpstart:HR

TED Talk: Simon Sinek: Why good leaders make you feel safe

“Leadership is not a title, it’s a choice.”

– Simon Sinek

To see the full TED Talk, click the video below:


Discussion Questions:

1) What do you do at work to make your team members feel safe?

2) What would the workplace look like if we looked after one another at work?

3) What do you think about a policy of “lifetime employment”?

4) How might a company improve by preferring “heart-count” over “head-counts”?