I'm a NBA fan, so it's no surprise that I read Henry Abbott over at True Hoop, a blog that was recently acquired by ESPN. Henry does a great job at weaving what's going on in society into the daily grind of the NBA, and was one of the people who inspired me to take a shot at a similar mission with The HR Capitalist. NBA/HR, it's all about dollars and bling in our field as well.. :)
Last week, Henry reminded me about a book entitled The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By, authored by Carol Pearson. The book's content will seem familiar to those of you sipping the Myers-Briggs kool-aid (myself included), as it breaks down six "types" that lurk in all of us, with dominant traits emerging and defining who we are and how we handle the world.
Henry's recent post focused on two of those types - the Warrior and the Wanderer (I dubbed it Continuous Learner above), and he wondered aloud if you can be a Wanderer/Continuous Learner in the shark-infested NBA and emerge with a championship. His target for the analysis? The super-skilled, super-nice and super-diverse Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks. From the True Hoop breakdown:
"One archetype is the wanderer. The wanderer, essentially, seeks new experiences, trying on some level to figure out what's different about him or her from everything else going on. The wanderer, as you can imagine, is an open-minded learner.
Another archetype is the warrior. Whereas the wanderer walks into a room and says "hmm ... what's going on here, and is there a place for me?" the warrior walks into a room and says "let's rearrange this joint." It's about realizing there's something different about yourself, and remaking the world in your image. This is single-minded.
I was learning about this when Michael Jordan was a young NBA player. People were talking about Jordan "imposing his will on the game." Think about the many anecdotes of Jordan telling his teammates, essentially, to be more like him. Warrior. Straight warrior.
And ... not so much of a wanderer. Jordan cast a famously narrow net in search of expertise -- Tim Grover, David Falk, Phil Jackson, people Jordan knew in high school or at college. (Hiring from a narrow pool of friends is one of his weaknesses as an executive in Charlotte.)
One of my favorite Jordan stories is about the fact that when he was getting to know Abe and Irene Pollin, who were courting him to become part of the Wizards' organization, they served him salmon. He had spent decades in the finest restaurants in the world, and had even owned restaurants. Yet, reportedly, this meeting in January 2000 was the first time Michael Jordan ever ate salmon.
Single-minded warrior, check. Wanderer? Not really.
Now, compare that to Dirk Nowitzki, who just spent a good chunk of the summer literally wandering remote Australia. Here is Nowitzki, interviewed on NBA.com, preaching the gospel of new experience:
Best piece of basketball advice you received was...
It wasn't really basketball advice, but just keep your eyes and ears open, always learn. It is a good lesson for life too. You always want to improve. You can never think you learned it all in life. There is always something else coming. That is the same with basketball. You can always work on your game and be a better player and person.
Later in the same interview, Nowitzki talks about his parents (don't we all wish we had these parents?) who essentially encouraged him to wander.
How proud is your family that you made it to the NBA?
You can't really describe it. My whole family is my biggest fans. I could go 0-20 one night and my mom will still call me and be like "hey you did this and this good." They supported me from day one. They drove me around to practices all over when I played tennis, handball. They let me make my own decision. I was pretty decent in tennis and handball. When I said I wanted to stop, they didn't say a word, they said "hey it is whatever you want to do." Then I started playing basketball. They drove me to basketball practice, to the games. So they have been really supportive of my sport career. They come over here every year for like two or three weeks and they love to be here, love to see me play. With the National Team in the summer, they travel wherever I go and try to watch. I grew up in a very close family and it has been great.
As I recall, Pearson suggests success comes from balancing these and other archetypes in your own life. I suspect that's good advice. (I also suspect that you do best in life by playing the cards you are dealt. It's not like Nowitzki could or should just decide to become brutal.)
But in the particular and bizarre game known as being a basketball superhero -- and here being a team leader may differ from being a supporting player -- I am quite certain that rules of the game are tilted heavily in favor of warriors.
And that's where I can't help thinking back to how Dallas was booted from the playoffs in the first round of the playoffs earlier this year. No, it wasn't all Dirk Nowitzki's fault. Yes, Golden State (irony alert, they're called "the Warriors!") was inspired.
But when I was watching those games on TV, I feel like I could see Dirk Nowitzki saying to the Warriors: What are you going to give me? I have this move and that move and this other one, and I'll use whichever one you will let me use. And the Warriors essentially replied that he couldn't have any of those."
That's a golden performance management breakdown. Two highly skilled, hall of fame players, but one will be remembered as the best of all time, and one will be remembered as a hall of famer - more than likely a hall of famer without a championship ring.
At the end of the day, finding the right candidate is all about motivational fit. Your company, the available position, the market conditions - none of that is really subject to change to fit the candidate. The candidate has to be the right emotional, motivational and type fit for the role. If they aren't, then you'll likely feel like you missed in the hiring process later, if you decide to bring them aboard.
Which begs the question - why wouldn't the Mavericks trade Dirk straight up for Kobe right now, especially given the inflexible job requirements of a franchise player in the NBA?
So, when you're filling that customer service or sales role, ask these two questions. And think about whether your open spot requires a warrior or a wanderer....