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Wade: ‘Bad moments make a person’

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Dwyane Wade overcame subsistence living in Chicago to find success on the court at Marquette University. Last year, he led his pro team, the Miami Heat, to the 2006 NBA championship.

Wade’s attributes:
  • Pure leadership: “Dwyane literally for six weeks played the game at a level that almost no one’s ever played at,” says former Heat coach Stan Van Gundy. “ The winning is what sets him apart from the other perimeter guys.”

  • Positive energy: “His spirit, his presence, is fun to watch,” says Denver Nuggets coach George Karl. “He doesn’t cheat the game with emotion or negative energy.”

  • Discipline: When Wade moved in with his father at age 9, his dad commandeered him into playing basketball. His dad would drill him continuously, sometimes shooting with only his left hand, until going on midnight. His father told him that if he could shoot in the dark, he could shoot anywhere.

  • Ability to learn: Fans perceive Wade as humble, quiet and polite. They don’t know that he got his first technical foul for “flipping the bird,” or that he grew so insulted at the glam surrounding other players that he “played angry” for a while. He learned.

  • Drive: His apparent humility is actually hunger, fueled by controlled rage. “He’s not humble,” says veteran Gary Payton. “When Dwyane gets on the court I can see the hunger in his face. He wants to win.”

  • Diplomacy: Even though he was Miami’s best player as a rookie, Wade deferred to “old-timer” Shaquille O’Neal.

  • Forgiveness: Wade knows that leaders whose drive derives from trauma won’t succeed if they blame others.

  • Cool: Having grown up under hardship, Wade considers anything on the court minor by comparison. “Thirteen points down with six minutes to go? That’s not life or death,” he says. “I’ve been through more than anybody knows. To me, this is joy.”
—Adapted from “Sportsman of the Year,” S.L. Price, Sports Illustrated.

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