Leadership in the social media age

Since detailed analysis of about 100 pages of legal mumbo jumbo is not generating a ton of talk lets try to change the subject.

I found David Stern's press conference over the weekend to be fascinating from a number of angles, none of which had anything to do with his Seattle/Sacramento commentary.

Most notably I thought there was a real shift in the presentation of NBA leadership moving forward and specifically the role the commissioner plays in that leadership.

I think if you were to look back at the 30 years of Stern's reign it is pretty clear that the strategy of the commissioners office was to serve as a "lightning rod", drawing attention and commentary away from the original owners and embracing the credit (and most often the blame) for all the hard decisions as the result of one single man who was high profile enough to garner all the attention and strong enough to handle it all in a way that the ownership group, league management and players were all largely insulated from the fickle public's heavy scrutiny or judgement.

I just don't think that leadership structure is viable in the era of social media. With so much additional scrutiny and volume of conversation having a single person or title with so much clear visibility and individual accountability substantially increases the dialogue.  It allows too much negative or sinister of an individual perception that is then projected upon the league and its owners through the strength and power of twitter.

I think the NBA is doing the absolute right thing by focusing more on the large and well credentialed leadership team that Adam Silver will be working with and guiding.  I expect them to continue having a very different public role for Silver than they did for Stern because the times have changed.  By removing the "lightning rod" and instead presenting a much more complex leadership system they should be able to divert more of that attention by shifting accountability to larger groups that lack any single figurehead that can be demonized.

I think this is yet another example of really solid planning and PR on the part of the NBA.  After all it is much more difficult to tweet anger towards "the combined relocation and finance committees appointed to forward their findings"

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