Sunday, February 17, 2013

Seven Ways to Win at Leadership

Successful teams start with the leaders or coaches
There is a lot involved in leadership. There is influencing. Mentoring. Teaching. Encouraging. Training. Developing. And a whole lot of listening and other verbs not mentioned here that are imperative to successful leadership. And if you do all or at least some of the things mentioned; hopefully, there is some winning along the way.

As I reflect on my years of coaching my sons' football team, I remember we won a lot but I never sat down and actually analyzed what we did right and what we could have improved upon until we coaches coached the boys the for the final time. But even then we focused on individual techniques. We never really sat down and thought about how we won so many games with team we had.

From time to time, we wondered what exactly attributed our success as coaches. Was it the talent we had? Our practices? Our knowledge of the game? Perhaps. Honestly, our team didn't have the most talented, the biggest, or even the fastest players. All the other coaches in the league thought we had a stacked team but we coaches and some parents knew we had some glaring weaknesses.

So what made us winners year after year? You guessed it leadership? But it wasn't as simple as some articles make leadership sound. There was a lot of hard repetitive work, teaching, frustration, yelling, disciplining and then we finally got buy in from the leaders on the team and then the rest of the players.

The same principles that made our youth football team successful are the same principles that will allow your organization to be successful. Hopefully, you don't need to yell and scream. We were dealing with 13 year- olds "who knew everything:"
  •  As coaches, we didn't just want to create better athletes. We wanted to create leaders. Our team had about six leaders. Those six leaders influenced the rest of the team. It was like having six additional coaches on the team. It made our team a lot easier to coach or manage. On your team or organization, it's better to develop leaders rather than followers. More leaders will make your job easier. In fact, by developing more leaders, you will work yourself out of a job.
  • Attention To Detail. We made sure our players repeat every drill and every play until they became second nature. When game time came, all our players were on the same page. Each player knew his assignment and our team had buy in when they saw success when each person carried out his assignment. The same has to take place in a business. Each person has to know his or her role and know how important his or her role is in the success of the team organization.
  • We required discipline. Above everything, discipline was a must. Discipline was more important than football. Not everyone will play after middle school but they will need discipline for the rest of their lives. Discipline played more of a role in the success of our team than talent. Following directions and carrying out their assignments made more of difference than speed and quickness. Most teams or organizations don't carry out their assignments every time. 
  • We were willing to change. As the kids got older, we coaches decided that we need to implement a different offense and defense.Our team did not have the size to line up and play smash mouth football. We knew the talent we had to work with and the limitations of our kids. Although we had success in the past with the offensive and defensive schemes we had in the past, we knew we couldn't keep those schemes.Our players didn't have the size. So we played to our strengths, which was our speed, agility and skill set. Your organization has to know it's strengths and weaknesses and play to it's strengths and attack your competitors weakness not strength. 
  • We weren't just a football team, we were a family. Our players knew cared about them beyond football. If any of players needed a ride to practice or home, we were provided taxi service. If we traveled on away games and if any of our players didn't have money, we would provide money for food and we provided a hotel room if necessary. We had activities that included players outside of football. While I don't expect you to do this for your employees, going the extra mile to show concern beyond work or business will gain loyalty and support.
  • We gave all of our players an opportunity to succeed. Not all players have the same skill level or ability but every player can contribute. And not all players mature at same time. But we made sure all players got in the game. When all players feel apart of the team. You never know how players will turn out in the future. The same can apply to  your organization. Everyone should be put in a situation where they can succeed. Find out what your teammates are good at give them that position. 
  • One of the most important things most leaders forget that they need to do to be successful is that they need to win. As the former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis would say, "Just win baby." When you win, it's contagious. And winners attract winners. The more you win, the more players want to play for you. When you win, players want to come to practice. Parents want to show up at games. And everyone on the team excited. The same with your business. Winning businesses attract winning employees. As the momentum grows, you have an unfair advantage and beat the competition year after year. 
I'm interested to hear your feedback and opinion on what makes leadership winners. You can also email your comments at

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