Monday, January 4, 2016

Can You Lead?

I'm a big time sports fan. I grew up in a family that valued and watched sports around the clock.. I basically grew up with Sports Center on the TV. My love for playing and learning about sports was fueled primarily by my father's huge love for sports. My Dad started my brother and I's passion for sports as little kids. We started with tee ball and moved into baseball, football, basketball and track and field. As we got older it seemed our love of sports just continued to grow. It also helped that I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship for track and field to continue my sports participation as a young adult. That kept my competitive juices flowing and my knowledge for all sports current. Once my collegiate sports eligibility expired I continued to love sports and even better I was getting an education at James Madison University on the various phases of how and why people participate in sports. It was eye opening to say the least. I learned so much about psychological theories related to sports performance and physiological adaptations to sports and exercise participation.

However, one of the biggest lessons I learned was about the concept of leadership. As you may know, the importance of leadership cannot be stated enough in the sports setting. Every year, especially in the National Football League, coaches are fired and hired based on the team's win/loss record. How well the team plays factors heavily into who coaches the team from year to year. While this is fair as wins and losses are the bottom line, who you hire to lead your organization whether it be in sports or in any other profession should be based first and foremost on an individual's ability to galvanize, motivate and get the most of their employees. Now don't get me wrong. You MUST hire someone in your organization who understand the basic knowledge and nuances of the job they are doing. That's the price of admission. Most individuals who come to apply for leadership levels roles will try to sell you on their mastery of the X's and O's. However, hiring for just this will not give you the success you are looking for. It has to be about that individuals ability to lead other people and themselves.

How many times have you turned on Sports Center to see that another NFL head coach was fired because he not only had a poor win/loss record, but because he also could not connect with his players? Regardless of how much money is made in any profession, people will only work hard for leaders that they respect and can relate to. So, you have to ask yourself, am I leadership material? The simple answer is maybe and maybe not. Having the title of the top spot in any organization is not for everyone. Not every one is meant to lead and be the face of the "franchise." So, how can you tell if you are that type of person. What is leadership? Here's a look in to see if you have what it takes to be a leader of people in an organization:

1. Presence

- Any great leader of any organization has that "it" factor about them. They are contagious in their personality and ability to deliver direction and intensity to others and themselves. Its an innate trait of someone who is a leader. They have always had it and you know it when you see it.

2. Compassion and Love

-Great leaders are at the forefront of compassion, love and care for their staff. They provide the proper level of connection with each staff member and relate to them in the way that works best for that staff member to feel validated and important. To get the best out of people you often have to meet their basic human needs for connection, compassion and care.

3. Disciplined

-Great leaders are not just great with feelings, but they are also great with providing structure and discipline in any environment. This structure provides boundaries and guidelines for the team so that everyone knows where they stand.

4. Reflection and Evaluation

-Any amazing leader always reflects upon their work and their interactions with others. They evaluate their decisions and make changes that are for the better good of the team and its members.

5. Build a Culture, Not a System

-Systems are numbers and schemes and procedures. They are heartless and have no emotional value. While having a good system is important to have guidance and rules, people don't stay in jobs long term because of systems. Leaders who employ a system based job with no emotional attachment to staff are doomed to have tremendous amount of employee turnover (see the Cleveland Browns). As a leader, staff turnover is the killer of productivity. Leaders must create a positive work culture in order for staff/employees to effectively perform the work in that culture at a high level on a long term basis.

Do you have what it takes to lead? If you do then great! If you don't then that's fine too. You just have to know yourself and what role you play in an organization.

Until next time...

Dr. D

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