The notion of loyalty is central to the construct of the workplace. How much “loyalty” we exhibit towards our organizations and our superiors is often interpreted as an implicit measure of our character. Great leaders and dutiful subordinates are supposed to be with their men until the very end. Our society reveres the images of Captain Edward Smith going down with the Titanic or Leonidas fighting with his unit at Thermopylae in the face of imminent defeat. It is important to note that our societal narrative also praises those who cut bait and move on to bigger and better things.
The NBA season will draw to a close over the next two weeks. The free agency period will follow approximately two weeks later. The free agent class is headlined by Lebron James who many sports pundits consider to be the league’s best player and heir apparent to Michael Jordan. Lebron James, Akron native, drafted by his hometown Cleveland Cavilers in 2003 is faced with a choice between legacy and loyalty. Does he stay with his hometown Cavs, who have made every effort to bring in supporting players to help him win a championship, but now lack the salary cap flexibility to improve, or does he bolt to greener pastures of New York?
Winning a title in New York, along with the increased global media attention of playing round ball in the Big Apple, would net Lebron countless additional millions and allow him to achieve his stated desire to be a “global icon”. Sticking with the Cavaliers would afford Lebron the opportunity to finish what he started in his hometown and he would forever be included in the select company of athletes who played their entire careers for one team.
Leaders need to acknowledge that there is polarity present in each team member’s mind. One side is pushing the individual to pursue career advancement and individual prestige above the needs of the team. The other side stresses collaboration and group achievement above self interest. Hopefully, by acknowledging these considerations, we can create better working environments that increase productivity and more importantly reduce employee stress.
Picture Credit: Ryan Fung