When you think about leadership many can relate to sports. It’s easy to look out on the
field and see who is calling the plays, hyping up the team and taking responsibility for the way the team played. I would like to focus on a key player who sets a valuable lesson on what leaders do and don’t do.
To keep this from any issues, I am going to disguise his true identity. I will say he played for the “kitty cats” on the southern east coast. Meow Meow. His first name can fit in well with our industry and his jersey bears the number 1. Let’s look at some key metrics of a leader and how we can apply it to the 2015 to 2016 season.
Leaders Say ‘We.’
In the championship run for the kitty cats, the atmosphere was very fun. Players were seen playing around on the sideline, interacting with the fans. Their war cry suggested that no matter the score, you play to score more (or keep the others from scoring).
In a sideline interview, the quarterback was questioned about the antics of the team on and off the field. To put the quote loosely, without directly quoting the target. He said, “You don’t understand. I like to win. It feels good. I like to have fun.” These are all understandable thoughts. Who doesn’t like to win? Fast forward to the big game of February 7th, 2016.
This same person was interviewed after they lost the big game. The leader was undoubtedly upset about the loss and was interviewed in the same room while the winning team celebrated in front of the cameras. His mood was understandably somber. The loose interpretation to his answers when asked about the game was, “We didn’t perform, We didn’t play well, We didn’t do our job.” While the use of the word “we” was applied it is used in the wrong context. Leaders use “we” to encourage, lead and support. Leaders use “I” when taking the fall to create the same results. This person seemingly took verbal possession for wins but blamed the team for the losses.
Leaders do not turn their back on the play because they think they can do better. This team loved to execute the quarterback option. The key to this play is to focus on the unblocked defensive end in the direction the play is being run.
If the end crashed down inside the line to attack the running back, the QB would keep the ball and run it to the outside. If the defensive end posted on the edge of the line, the running back would receive the ball and run towards the middle of the play.
The exchange can look awkward at times as the decision must be made in a split second. For this person, not only did he decide if the defensive end was crashing down or posting, but he would also decide “can I beat this guy”. After all, this person was incredibly gifted on his feet. The exchange between this quarterback and running back always looked ugly. This led to some successes early on but eventually would be stopped by the defense as you could almost assure that he was going to keep the ball trying to make the play himself. This led to failed plays that may have been successful if the leader did not turn his back on the physics of the play in support of his own glory.
Leaders teach others how to succeed.
OK, so he is not all that bad. This person used his platform to work with younger kids to get them motivated for success in their life. He celebrates his scores by taking the ball and giving it to a young person in the stands. He has done very well in making sure that his career touched people. For that, he is a leader. Always use your position to succeed and be an example for others to follow.
One of the greatest gifts of leadership is attaching yourself to others, helping them along the way. You never really know if you are making an impact while you are doing this. Are they listening? Are they performing as you asked? Most probably not at first. They must find what works from them in your advice. This can be frustrating to someone who mentors. To lead someone is not to make a copy of yourself, but to find someone who can do what you did better.
Over the next few months, let’s look at ourselves and our practices and understand that we all can do great things because we have opportunities and desires to do so. Until then, be great.