Adam Silver… Good decision, mediocre leadership

The NBA’s Adam Silver is no demonstrably exceptional leader. At least
given the recent example of decision-making without discernment. At best, he
could be a negative example… something to hold up as a “kids, don’t do this”
sort of thing.
Now, before everyone gets all huffy, hear me out; Donald
Sterling is a moronic jerk. I can’t say for certain whether he’s a racist, though I can say
that, assuming the recordings are valid and in context, he’s said some things
that sure sounded racist. He damned sure needed to be punished, no
question. I don’t question Silver’s decision, merely make a case that the decision was virtually faite accompli, and not representative of the type of lofty leadership with which others are giving credit.
Here’s the thing: making a reactionary decision, based
on extraordinary public outcry on behavior that by all accounts was nothing new
(numerous accounts of Sterling saying these things before) is far from an
exhibition in leadership. It shows no vision (the behavior wasn’t new) and it (forcing sale) wasn’t even his decision to make. He simply decided to ask the owners to
make that decision.
He’s being held up as courageous, in part, for making a
decision to ask someone else to make a decision.
Corporate sponsors were bailing out, players (even the
Clippers’) were talking boycott, and the media frenzy was threatening to sully
the entire sport. Donald Sterling didn’t “do” anything special (this time) except say
something to a single person that was recorded. This entire hoopla is not based
on Sterling’s previously well-known racist behaviors (e.g., discriminatory slumlord) or any such atrocity.
This became an issue because dollars started being effected
In my view, Silver
had no choice, and no-choice decisions–like bankruptcy, financial layoffs,
closures, paying required taxes and making payroll on payday–are not
“leadership,” no matter how necessary. In fact, they frequently represent quite the opposite.
Like all decisions, there are two camps in the aftermath.
Those who believe a given decision was correct hail the decision-maker as smart and
decisive; those who do not, see the decision as a poor one made in the heat of
the moment without benefit of due consideration. I’m not weighing in behind
either camp—I’m simply saying that this particular decision, though potentially
necessary—was no specific indicator of leadership acumen and values.
Sort of like the optimist/pessimist argument: pessimists say
the glass is half empty, optimists say the glass is half full. I’m a
consultant; all I know is that you’ve got too much glass.
Now, to add insult to injury, Dennis Hof has banned Sterling from the Bunny Ranch brothel in Nevada. And he did it proactively, unwilling to jeopardize current clientele who might be present when Sterling paid a visit, using known evidence and incomplete information and without any media or public pressure.
Just something to think about.
But that’s just me…


Kevin Berchelmann

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