Tue 13 Jul 2010
I’ve already mentioned in my blogs that I am not a sports person but like most people, last Thursday I sat in front of the TV waiting to hear LeBron’s decision about where he would be playing basketball next season. I have to preface this by saying that I would not have even known about this except that my fiance, who is a great storyteller, had given me the background story on LeBron and captivated my attention when he informed me that LeBron was involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, an organization I admire and respect. So there I was, like millions of others, waiting to hear LeBron on ESPN.
Being from South Florida, you can imagine the excitement that we all felt when LeBron made his decision to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and play for the Miami Heat. People were calling them the Trifecta and the Three Kings. For the next few days, my fiance kept me updated on what the media and blogosphere was saying about LeBron’s decision. Some were favorable, others not and yet others were downright unprofessional and rude. As I listened to the comments, I made a shocking discovery that although obvious to most sports fans had not been obvious to me.
The big discovery was that I learned the ages of these 3 young men. LeBron is 25, Dwyane is 28 and Chris is 26. That puts them squarely in the upper age bracket of Millennials. It occurred to me that these 3 young men represented a Millennial Trifecta. They were the perfect example of how Millennials think and act.
One of the key traits Millennials demonstrate is the desire to be part of a group. Collaboration and being part of a team is top on their list. LeBron, Dwyane and Chris could have decided (like I’m sure many of their Baby Boomer predecessors did) to be the top dog in separate teams and hoard the limelight to themselves. Instead each of them embraced the notion of giving up some of their personal spotlight to be part of something bigger, something more meaningful.
We live in a world where we believe money is the primary motivator behind people’s decisions especially athletes that command unbelievable sums of money for their talent. Yet, the Millennial Trifecta proved everyone wrong. Like many Millennials, money was not the primary motivator for these 3 young men. In fact, they all took less money to be able to work together and reach their goals. Even though I understand that the real money comes from endorsements, the point is that collaborating was a bigger driver for them than the salary they could earn. They understood that the sum of the parts was bigger than the individual pieces.
I watched as these 3 young men came together for a news conference to speak to reporters and to their fans. You could tell they had incredible respect for each other and were excited about working together. Time and time again, they spoke about working as a team and sharing the spotlight with each other. LeBron referred to the Heat as Dwyane’s team. There was no talk of “me”, it was all “we”. Millennials embrace the “we” which for Baby Boomer “I” types can be quite surprising.
I know that many leaders are feeling frustrated with the Millennials that are coming to work in their organizations. Millennials are unfamiliar to them and do things that are contrary to what they have seen or would do themselves – very much like what the Millennial Trifecta just did. This often leads us to make judgments that get in the way of getting to know and understand this young workforce.
Well, now we have a Millennial Trifecta in the spotlight that so far has exemplified in a very positive way the makeup of Millennials. Will they continue to do so going forward? I, for one, will be glued to my TV this next season to find out. To me, LeBron, Dwyane and Chris represent a live and very visible case study of Millennial Thinking.
Will you watch with me?