The Allen Iverson Syndrome

I was reading news about the NBA when I read about an issue about Allen Iverson of the Memphis Grizzlies.

For a good portion of the decade, Iverson was the leading scorer the team he played in. He was a gutsy player who played with much heart and even won the league's Most Valuable Player award once. He was admired of his style of play that defined the play of his team.

However, when age started to rob Iverson of his athleticism, he was expected to take on a reserve role and play less time to give his body more rest. At the same time, the less playing time meant that his younger teammates would get more exposure and experience playing at a high level.

Iverson resented his new role to the team. When he was not leading the team's efforts, he was a distraction to the team and disrupted the flow of the game. But when he was given the chance to start when another player was injured, he excelled and led the team like he used to. This behavior from Iverson led him to be traded twice and made it difficult for him to find a new team early this year.

Now, Allen Iverson just took a leave of absence from his current team, the Memphis Grizzlies, because he was designated as a reserve player.

This is story of Allen Iverson reminds me of something that happens to us more often than we would admit it.

When we are the leader of a group, we bring our "A" game and put in the effort to do our best and try to inspire everyone to perform at a high level. But when we're not the leader, our effort and commitment dips (but probably not to the level that it becomes a distraction.) This is something I'd call the "Allen Iverson Syndrome"-- when we're the star, we shine bright, but when we're put to the background, we tone down significantly (and even resent it).

I feel this is a challenge to folks who are used to being leaders and/or having their way. (I think the MBA program has lots of these :P) I think we can reduce our Allen Iverson-like tendencies of we believe that we can still contribute and get recognized without being in the forefront. This also means that the team must have a culture of giving props to everyone, not just the leader.


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