Fresh off of a National Championship season, I thought it fitting to share in this month’s newsletter two of my favorite topics; Leadership and Winning. 

I recently read an article written by John Gordon titled “Lead Like Dabo”, and wanted elaborate on the principles provided.  I believe every winning culture possesses a transformational leader with an uncanny way of connecting with his or her players.  The strength in relationships is often a direct reflection of the strength of a program’s culture.  Although I have never met Dabo SWINney, his passion and excitement for winning football games work simultaneously with the excitement he exudes when it comes to developing young men.  Lets take a look into positive leadership… 

1.  Be Honest and Clear with your expectations – Dabo never promises playing time.  He says that playing time is earned.  I have been a part of coaching staffs that promised many players starting positions, and upon arriving to campus those players realized none of what was said during the recruiting process was true. The fact is, you will have to fight and compete for your position.  But what Dabo does promise, “No one will love you like we do.”  Meeting with players and coaches prior to the season to establish clear expectations is a step that many leaders fail to take.  Many operate in the assumption that expectations have been provided, and a clear understanding of whats required falls through the gaps.  

2.  Be An Over Believer –  This belief is not only in your players or staff, but the belief that the culture you are building will produce championship people.  Having a blueprint and an agenda will help you look the part, but the follow through and consistency is the great separator.  When your people know that you truly believe in them and you have a vision for their betterment, they will jump aboard the ship.  The caveat is, most people can sniff out inauthentic people and those people will eventually be found out.  

3.  Be A Better You – John Gordon says “The truth is to be a better leader you need to be a better you.” My question to you is, what are you doing to grow yourself?  What books are you reading, which podcasts are you listening to, which professional development seminars do you plan to attend this year?  A person with a growth mindset seeks out opportunities to expand their knowledge and to connect with the current world. Don’t be the leader that finally gets the position and then think that you’ve arrived.  

4.  Be Demanding but not Demeaning – I have first hand experience with coaches that believe in “tear you down to build you back up” which is a form of manipulation.  And although that may have worked in past times, that is not showing itself successful for Millennials and Gen Z.  They are more apt to choosing flight vs. fight.  As a leader it is okay to be demanding, but it is necessary that you show them you love them to keep their hearts.  Because when you lose their hearts, you lose their minds, then their trust, and that’s when you’ve lost them completely.  

5.  Be A Leader Wherever You Are – One thing about Positive Leaders, its hard for them to “turn it off”.  They add value in most every area of their lives.  People will genuinely migrate towards Positive Leaders, and when they’re gone, they are hard to replace.  Operate on the level that you are not only missed once you move on, but to where you raise the standard of operation for future leaders.  Positive Leadership doesn’t just make you better, it makes everyone around you better.  Leaders create other leaders, and they teach them the tools for success.  Teach them how to reach higher, serve greater, care more and love deeper.  

I challenge you to make the necessary changes towards becoming a Positive Leader!

~ EB