Posts Tagged ‘Education’

(Excerpt taken from Nick Saban’s book, “How good do you want to be?“) 

Being a Great Leader

Lesson 1: Great leaders stand up when adversity arises
Times of adversity are when we need leaders the most.  In business, employees will look to you when a bad earnings report comes out or when there is a PR disaster.  When there is trouble at home, your children will look to you for strength and guidance.  It’s easy to lead in good times, but the difficult times present an opportunity to display true leadership.

Lesson 2: Great leaders allow the team to take ownership of the rules
Great leaders know how to follow.  They don’t follow the masses like sheep, certainly, but they listen and allow the workers or players a say in how things are done.  Players should understand that it is their team, and they are responsible for that team.  The great leaders encourage followers to take an active role and to take ownership in the organization.

Lesson 3: Great leaders embrace future leaders
I strongly believe that one of my responsibilities as head coach is to help those on my staff fulfill their potential and achieve their dreams.  Over the years, I have had numerous assistants move on to better jobs in college or the NFL, and I take pride in the fact that I was a part of their growth.  I have an obligation to help them.  Some coaches and business leaders do everything they can to keep their staff intact, even if it means stifling the growth of their employees.  But that works against a leader.  He or she should be encouraging employees to grow, even if that means losing them.  Of course, there is another plus to having employees move on:  You have the opportunity to replace them with new folks who bring new ideas and enthusiasm to the job.  So don’t stifle growth of your team members or the opportunities for advancement.  Show your loyalty by encouraging them to follow their hearts and minds, and allow them to be rewarded for their efforts by supporting them.

Lesson 4: Great leaders lead the orchestra but let them play
Some orchestra conductors distract their musicians .  That’s right – in their enthusiasm and passion, some musical conductors flail their arms and move so violently that it actually distracts members of the orchestra, particularly those in the first few rows.  Of course, the conductor does not do it intentionally, but the effect is the same.  Musicians lose focus.  Coaches can do the same thing.  We can “overcoach,” commenting on or adjusting every single movement on every single play.  We can try to control every detail, but it will only end up smothering assistants and players.  

Lesson 5: Great leaders pick their battles
Our instinct is survival, and it rises to the surface when we face adversity. Our instinct is to fight back.  The desire to survive can mean a physical reaction, such as throwing punches or protecting your head with your arms, or an emotional one, such as standing your ground on principles.  But one thing champions understand is that you have to pick your battles. As a younger coach, I often picked battles with administrators and won – but in many cases being right was not worth the ill will it created.  Sometimes winning the battle means losing the war.

Lesson 6: Great leaders do not rush to make change because of failure
One of the biggest mistakes a football coach can make is to abruptly change plans because of a loss – but he would not be alone.  Coaches of many sports, business executives, and parents often make hast to make changes after failure.  But beware:  Many times, it is not the plan that failed but rather the implementation of it. Be patient after failure, and be prudent.  Evaluate, yes, but drastic measures are rarely called for. Make a thorough examination of what went wrong, how it happened, and who is responsible and then put in place a plan that the organization at large believes will improve the situation. 

Lesson 7: Great leaders hire good people
Surround yourself with good people!  Any good leader should have a strong supporting staff who may not be clones but add something to the organization.  A big mistake that managers with strong egos make is surrounding themselves with “yes men” simply to make themselves feel better.  Hire good people.  It is that simple. 

Lesson 8: Great leaders make tough decisions
Make the tough decisions by doing what is best for your organization – but always be fair and honest with those involved. 

Lesson 9: Great leaders accept responsibility
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.”  Who you are and how you lead touches everyone in the organization. 

Lesson 10: Great leaders show compassion for those around them
Take the times everyday to do something, if only for a second, that lets those around you know you care.  It may be briefly encouraging an employee, inquiring about a player’s mother, or asking your child what she did in math class.  Sometimes that’s all we need. 

Lesson 11: Great leaders never force leadership
Rather then worrying about being a leader, it’s more important to take individual responsibility to fulfill your role without depending on someone else to lead you.  That individual responsibility will make the organization as a whole much stronger. 

Lesson 12: Great leaders must insist on excellence
Simply put, you must demand excellence.  A leader must demand excellence of him or herself, first and foremost.  How can a leader be effective and expect something of others that he or she is unwilling to do?  I can’t ask our players or coaches or staff to excel unless I am doing the same.  To begin with, I insist on excellence from myself. 

Lesson 13: Great leaders are not always popular
Good managers must understand that they are there to lead, to help the organization succeed, not to be popular. Some players or assistant coaches may not like my personality, or they may not like decisions I make about game plans or off the field issues. Heck, they may not like me because I don’t smile enough.  But I would hope that most of them respect me.  And that’s the difference.  Be respected for the principles and values that you believe in, as well as for the classy example you demonstrate in carrying out those same principles and values.

Lesson 14: Great leaders don’t have all the answers but they find them
Rely on your employees, your co-workers, your friends, your family, or strangers, and learn from those around you.  The best leaders know they don’t have all the answers, but they know where to find them.