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Mark Cuban’s Leadership Style in a Basketball Team Report (Assessment)

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Updated: Dec 16th, 2021

Background on Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban, an entrepreneur who owns the Mavericks, a basketball team from Indiana, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1958. He studied at the University of Indiana and was into sports from an early age playing rugby. Even at a young age, Cuban showed signs of entrepreneurship whereby he used to sell things door to door in order to make some income. Indeed, at the age of twelve, he sold garbage bags and later provided lessons on disco dancing (Boone $ Kurtz, 2009, p 183).

After school, Cuban got a job with the Mellon bank situated in Pittsburgh, and as a working experience, he learned much on computers. However, his career at the bank was short-lived as he later quit starting his own company in Dallas in 1982. The company was later sold in 1990 for six million dollars and later moved to Los Angeles, where he got into the film business briefly as an actor (Lussier & Achua, 2010, p 109).

His skills as an entrepreneur are seen when he co-founded an online broadcasting company which was later sold to Yahoo for 5.7 billion dollars. He invested in the sporting industry and bought the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, which is a professional basketball team based in Texas, in 2002 for $280 million in January 2000 (Boone $ Kurtz, 2009, p 183). He also has interests in the media industry through HDNet television network, film Production Company, and a chain of movie theaters. This is in addition to owning sharesleuth.Com, a website dedicated to probing securities fraud. Nevertheless, his profile will not be complete without mentioning that he is married and has two daughters.

Leadership styles

Leadership is the process of influencing people through acts of motivation and providing the employees with the course and the organizational goals. It is also the process of implementing organizational plans. Generally, good leaders use different styles interchangeably according to the prevailing conditions (Huber, 2006, p13).

One of the different leadership styles is the authoritarian or autocratic style. This is where the leader says what needs to be done and gives the guidelines on how to do it. Basically, the workers have no say in the decision-making processes. This method is useful when time is short, and the employees are well motivated.

The participative or democratic style is where some or all the employees are involved in the decision-making process. The style is useful when the workers are more knowledgeable than the leader on certain issues (Huber, 2006, p13-14).

In the delegative or the free reign style, employees make decisions on issues affecting the organization, although the leader takes responsibility for these decisions. The leader cannot do everything by himself, so he delegates the decision-making capacity to the employees. This is best used where the employees can examine a given situation and decide what should be done.

Leaders using the bureaucratic style of leadership use the laid down rules and regulations to guide them on how to relate with their employees. The rules and regulations are contained in the organization’s book. This method is best used when the work that the employee is doing poses great risk to them, for example, being the use of machines or toxic stuff in the course of doing the job.

In the charismatic leadership model, the leader seeks to improve the workers’ enthusiasm or passion for the job through the use of their personal power. Basically, the leader uses personal charm to motivate the employees, therefore, improving their performance.

Leadership styles of Mark Cuban

Once Cuban attained control of the Mavericks on the 14th January of 2000, immediate changes were noted in the management and the view of the Mavericks by the fans. He was a mavericks fan even before he bought the team, and after buying it, he continued with his former tradition of watching the team play and cheering for it from the seats he used before. He acted as the role model for the fans and instilled pride and passion in the fans. This shows the charismatic side of his leadership whereby he uses his power as the owner and, at the same time, a successful entrepreneur to motivate and encourage the mavericks fans – or customers (Lussier & Achua, 2010, p 109).

He pioneered and encouraged fans interaction through the use of e-mails. This was on his computer, and the personal touch that Mavericks’ popularity rose around the world as the fans noticed his energetic personality. This further illustrates his charismatic leadership style whereby he garnered up support for the team by the use of his personality (Lussier & Achua, 2010, p 109).

The use of e-mails for interaction between the fans and among the fans, players, and the management has led to increased communication and passage of ideas from the fans to the management. Cuban responds to the fans’ e-mails and has used some of the suggestions from the fans to make changes in the business. This can be illustrated through the use of the three-sided shot clock that was installed in the Mavericks’ arena after the fans suggested it. This shows Cuban as a democratic leader who allows other people to air their ideas and considers them when making decisions (Onion Sports network, 2008).

Cuban has an aspect of autocratic leadership in him; this can be seen where his goals and objectives override everything else. He is committed to winning and does everything in his power to improve his business ventures. Indeed, he made the decision to hire special coaches after acquiring the team.

After he bought the sporting leagues and organizations, there were rules changes in an effort to streamline the sporting world. These rules involved identifying such things as definitions and explanations of what is/isn’t a foul and the punishment procedures (Onion Sports network 2008). This laying down of the rules shows Cuban as a bureaucratic leader who has rules and guidelines in place which regulate the interactions among all those involved.

Personal traits of Mark Cuban

Cuban is flamboyant and uses a hands-on approach to manage his Mavericks team. He is loud and enthusiastic in his support for the team and love for the basketball game. This personal approach helps him meet the fans’ expectations, for he is one of them, hence understands the business better than other managers who don’t understand the game well.

Cuban is a very outspoken individual who holds nothing back in trying to give a piece of his mind. This outspoken nature has landed him in trouble on many occasions. For instance, he has often been fined large sums of money for his complaints about the referees and the way the matches are officiated. This shows him as a die-hard fan who will stop at nothing to express his dissatisfaction when situations warrant it. This makes him connect more with the fans who see him as their spokesman to address issues concerning the club.

Cuban is pushy and arrogant, and his desire to be rich and famous makes him a brutal executive. He always yearns to be in control of all the activities he is involved in. This can be seen in his reactions to the referees’ decisions, on which his outspoken nature has earned him hefty fines. His need for control in the sporting sector and the disappointment of the NBA management in the opposition it offered him as he ran the mavericks; and the opposition from the major league owners when he tried to buy the Chicago cubs, a professional baseball team based in Chicago, resulted in the liquidation of most of his assets as he bought the sporting leagues and organizations to a tune of 51% of the shares (Onion Sports network, 2008).

On announcing this to the media, he highlighted many things that had frustrated him in the sporting world, which included but were not limited to officiating the nature and structure of power and those in power. Moreover, his lack of control necessitated the acquisition. According to him, it was also a childhood dream for him to own the sports (Onion Sports network, 2008).

Cuban is a sore loser. He is a very emotional person, especially when it comes to Mavericks, and the thought of him losing is unfathomable. Many times, he has been fined for his comments about the officiating of the game, especially when his team loses. He is known to use derogatory words when dealing with or to speak about opponents.

Mark Cuban relationship with the players

To mark Cuban, mavericks is not a business venture but a way to express his passion for basketball. He is rumored to prefer losing money to losing games. Since the acquisition of the team, the profitability has not increased, for it made profits only once. These losses are further multiplied by the fines Cuban gets from the league due to his comments.

The former management that had failed to revamp the mavericks was retained, but some more added until the player-coach ratio became 1:1. He made sure that he was involved or informed about the decision-making and often attended practice sessions. He sat close to the pitch and had conversations with the players hence eliminating the bureaucracy of following the chains of command. This close relationship with the players at a personal level acted as a launching pad for his motivational campaigns, which eventually transformed the team to become one of the winners (Engel 2010).

When Cuban wanted to sell the team after a clash with the officials during the finals, it was Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, a forward and a point guard with the mavericks, who talked him out of the idea (Bialik, 2009). Moreover, his tantrums have, at times, affected the way things are run at mavericks. He lets his emotions get the better of him often enough, and this has led to the loss of focus on what is really important. His temper hampers his decision-making capabilities at times hence bad judgment. Indeed, he has been known to refuse to authorize the funds for scouting for new talent just because they had a fallout with the coaches or managers.

Acquisition of new talent

Cuban uses plus/minus ratings to determine the true value of the player before making decisions on transfers (Bialik, 2009). The plus/minus rating examines the worth of the player by examining the contributions of the player to the team, putting into consideration the game situation and the rival team. This tracks the player’s growth and development as a professional player both in the long and short term. These ratings help the scouts gauge the real values of the players hence good investments. Moreover, the future of the current players can be determined, and good decisions are made on who to hold on to or let go of.


Power can be defined as the potential of a leader to influence and may be real or perceived. The sources of power can be positional or personal. Positional powers come from the hierarchy of an organization from the top down; hence the higher you are, the more powerful you are (Lussier & Achua, 2010, p 110).

Personal power is based on the individual characteristics of the leader. Different powers are used in different ways. The legitimate power is used by Cuban through the use of employee consultation hence their involvement in decision making (Lussier & Achua, 2010, p 110).

The positional power allows you to control and manage the organization because that is what your position entails. It gives you the power over the others in the course of running the business. Basically, Cuban has control over all the employees at mavericks because his position as the owner and chairman allows him to (Lussier & Achua 2010 p 111).

When Cuban bought the Mavericks, he brought many changes. He redecorated the locker rooms, bought a new jet for the team, and booked the players in the best hotels, and the players were to be offered room services after their games. Cuban therefore influenced these players through the use of money hence the monetary power.


Mark Cuban, a Pittsburgh-born entrepreneur, started doing businesses at a very young age and has matured to be one of the richest men in the world. Through the acquisition or foundation of software companies and later reselling them, Cuban has become one of the leaders in the internet, film, media, and sports world.

Given that leadership is the process of influencing people through acts of motivation and providing the employees with the course and the organizational goals, Cuban has, in one instance or another, used the different forms of leadership styles in varying situations. The style used depends on the time, nature of the relationships, source of information, capacities of the employees to do the job, the nature of the jobs, and the conditions or situations at the workplace.


Bialik, C. (2009). Mark Cuban’s Surprising Player-Performance Numbers. The Wall Street Journal. Web.

Boone, L. E. $ Kurtz, D. L. Contemporary Business: 2009 Update. Cengage learning Inc. Web.

Engel, J. F. (2010). Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban Comes Clean About His Tough Decision. Web.

Huber, D. (2006). Leadership and Nursing Care Management. 3rd Edition. Pennsylvania, Saunder Elsevier. Web.

Lussier, R. & Achua, C. (2010). Leadership: Theory, Application, & Skill Development. NY, Cengage learning Inc. Web.

Onion Sports network. (2008). Mark Cuban Buys Sports. Onion Sports network Issue, 44, 28. Web.

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