Thursday, January 31, 2013

Six Leadership Lessons I Learned from refereeing

Over a period of 10 years, I refereed football, basketball, baseball and software from the youth level on up to college sports. I can tell you one thing for sure, I screwed up a lot of calls. I screwed up some calls so bad I apologized to players and coaches years later. It wasn't all bad though. Every once in a while I would get the calls right and call a fair game. Fans still yelled and screamed obscenities at me. But for the most part, I enjoyed teaching kids the game, getting some exercise and to be honest, I enjoyed the pocket change I got paid for officiating.

But if I learned anything over the past 10 years of officiating, I learned 7 key leadership lessons:

  1. To be a leader, you have to be thick skinned. You can't be a "punk" as they say in the vernacular. You must learn to make a decision and stick by that decision and don't be influenced by popular opinion. (ie the fans, coaches, parents, players). In the real world, you sometimes have to know that you're making the right decision but it may not be popular. 
  2. Be decisive. Followers like to see leaders who can make a decision and stick by that decision. Makes the organization nervous when the leader(s) waiver on many of their decisions. Decision can be difficult as you want to be right. Wrong decision can cost you time and money. Do your research. Consult people "in the know" and go with the facts. 
  3. Preparation is the key to successful leadership. When I refereed a game, I and fellow referees held what's called a pregame meeting. We discuss the rules and how to apply them. We discuss possible situations that may arise and how we will address them. The same for your organization. You and your leaders discuss the vision and goals for your business and how you plan to achieve them. You do this many times after hours or early in the morning. That would be your "pregame.'
  4. Dealing with difficult people is "must have" skill in leadership. Their either in your organization, in your inner circle, your customers and sometimes the difficult person is YOU. Sometimes  your most difficult customers are your most loyal and profitable customers. As a leaders, you must be able to listen to what their saying exactly and resolve the issue quickly. 
  5. Although there is no yellow flag you can wave off like referees can in football, you receive more respect and become more human when you can admit that you're wrong. Admitting your wrong and getting past pride and arrogance, you can save time, money, and maintain relationships and friendships.
  6. Make the right call. No matter what it takes, get it right. Your business is important. It's important that you don't waste time and money. Sometimes when there is a close call on the football field, the officials huddle together to make sure everyone is on the same page and making the right decision. In your business, consult others; especially, those who deal with certain situations or departments everyday. Do what it takes to get it right.
  7. As in life, in business the unexpected happens. The economy change. Someone quits. Someone makes some bad mistake(s). You have to expect the unexpected as the old saying goes. Although you may be afraid, it's important to keep your composure. Your followers are getting vibes from you. If you're nervous. They'll be nervous. Be confident and have faith in your abilities and decision during uncertain times. Easier said than done but it can be done. 
Eight Leadership Lessons Leaders must Learn
I'm sure there are more leadership lessons I learned and I'm sure there are more lessons leaders must know to be successful but I felt these were some key skills or lessons. As a leader, you're always learning because things are always changing.  I would like to hear your comments and feedback on this blog. Look forward to seeing what you have to post.

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