4 Leadership lessons from the Last Dance

The documentary series “The Last Dance” was a big hit in 2020 as it told the story of how Michael Jordan played a massive part in leading the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles in eight years. It was a very interesting insight into the man himself, what drove him and his extreme focus on winning.

As with most successful people, there are lessons that can be learnt even if we would struggle to shoot a free throw let alone a three pointer with seconds to go!!

Here are 4 lessons we can take away from the documentary:

1) Leaders aren’t and often can’t be friends with their teammates. Although loved by fans, Jordan set very high standards and was often very tough on his teammates. He certainly couldn’t be classed as nice guy. Leaders have to set high standards with their team and have to call them out if they are not living to these. They have to be prepared to hold tough conversations when team members step out of line.

2) Leaders require the strength of the entire team to succeed. Jordan had many great teammates to help the team succeed, although he was often the top point scorer. Leaders are only as strong as the ability to identify and encourage the strengths of their team.

3) Leaders have to love what they do. Jordan being the star of the team was always in the spotlight, yet his passion for the team and to win got him through the tough moments. He was so popular with fans that it was extremely rare to venture out in public. He often spent many hours alone in his room. Leadership can be similar, it is challenging and can be lonely at the top and leaders are not always popular. However, leaders have to love what they do deep down to stick to a course and inspire a team to learn and grow with them.

4) Leaders keep their team focused on the goal. Winning their sixth title was tough and a grind, with many off field distractions, yet Jordan was able to keep the team focused on the end result. Leadership is very similar, sometimes work is a grind and it’s easy to get bogged down without seeing the big picture. Leaders have to keep their team focused when times get tough, be the coach and motivator to get the team through.

I really enjoyed the documentary and reflecting back on it, it did deliver a number of key lessons.