Leading Like A Champion
Lead - er
1. The person who leads or commands a group, organization or country
2. A person followed by others
Synonyms - chief, head, conductor, guide, director, captain
Welcome to the newest blog post in our Championship Series. Today's topic is virtually synonymous with championship - leadership.
Joe Montana, NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback, once said, "It's impossible to have any success as a QB without being a leader, since all eyes in the huddle are on you. If you're uncertain your teammates will know!"
Kevin "KG" Garnett, star NBA Celtic power forward and center, once told of how Michael Jordan, NBA Hall of Famer, believed in the absolute necessity of demonstrating leadership early by setting the tone at the start of each and every game. "Both offensively and defensively, you have to be ready. Be aggressive, and if the team's not following you, you have to be the leader and push the team over the hump."
Champions are natural leaders. And great champions like great leaders share a number of distinctive leadership qualities in common. These key qualities include the following seven: 1) character, 2) vision, 3) communications skills, 4) people skills, 5) competence, 6) boldness, and 7) the willingness to serve.
1. Character. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, "There is only one kind of strength which is lasting - character." Indeed, the main ingredient of outstanding leadership is outstanding character - honesty, integrity, humility: someone whose word can absolutely be trusted. All true champions possess genuine character. Without it, they are champions in name only, not in substance. "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold." Proverbs 22:1.
2. Vision. Champions like leaders are visionaries. They have an instinct for the future. You almost believe they can see around corners. Visionaries are born to lead. Others become focused around their plans and goals, and are fueled to complete the leader's vision, even when times get extremely tight.
3. Communications Skills. Champions inspire others. They lead by example. In a 1996 NBA playoff game against the Orlando Magic, the Bulls were trailing at halftime. The team seemed disheartened, out of sync. Michael Jordan stood up in the locker room and said, "Trust in me. Climb on my back and let me carry you. I'll take care of the rest.." The atmosphere in the room suddenly shifted. Everyone felt the goosebumps. The Bulls went on to, not only win the game, but sweep the series!
4. People Skills. There is a Liberian saying, "If the townspeople are happy look for the chief." Phil Jackson, Hall of Fame NBA Coach, exercised compassionate leadership with the teams he coached. Phil treated people with the same respect and care you'd give yourself, using authority sparingly, and allowing room for humor. He allowed players to be their own people, but within a defined structure. Mark Twain once famously said, "Most of us can run pretty well all day on one compliment." Phil Jackson understood precisely the meaning of Twain's comment, and indeed, handled his teams like a Liberian chief.
5. Competence. Champions, in whatever field they're in, are true masters of their crafts. They have done their homework exceedingly well, and put in the time. Michael Jordan had that rare knack of a great champion. He just outworked everyone else! He'd be the first and last one in the weight room, on the basketball court, it didn't matter. Jordan consistently amazed with both his offensive and defensive prowess on the court. He had a totally complete game in every sense of the word. MJ was determined to just flat outwork everybody. And he did!
6. Boldness. Goethe once stated that boldness has "genius", and "power" in it. Champions are willing to take decisive action exactly when it is required. They are never victims of the aim-aim-aim syndrome. They stay ready to confidently take the shot. Whenever the game was on the line, Michael Jordan, like all true champions, always wanted the ball!
7. Willingness to Serve. No one will ever be a great leader or champion who wants to do it all himself or herself, or to take all the credit. In the army, officers eat last. Taking care of your soldiers is an act of stewardship. Jesus Christ was the perfect example of the Servant Leader. He voluntarily washed the feet of his followers. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45. Service to others is the true hallmark of a real leader and a true champion.
Being a champion, just like being a leader, is more about what you do than about what you say. Ralph Waldo Emerson once famously said, "What you do speaks so loudly that I can't hear what you say." It's impossible to truly lead unless you are very demanding of yourself. You can't demand anything of others until you've shown that you're willing to do it yourself. A true champion will demand more of himself, or herself, than of anyone else. Real champions, indeed, lead by example!
Do your actions speak louder than your words? How much are you willing to demand of yourself? How willing are you to serve others, and give back to the community?
For more on the vital subject of leadership see the following links:
21 Indispensible Qualities of a Leader - John C. Maxwell
John Maxwell on Leadership
Leadership - Wikipedia
Leadership at the Open Directory Project
A Theory of Leadership Effectiveness, Fred E. Fiedler, McGraw Hill: Harper and Row, 1967
Human Behavior and the Social Environment: Macro Level, Katherine Van Wormer, Fred Besthorn, Thomas Keefe, Oxford University Press, 2007
Leadership Without Easy Answers, Ronald Heifetz, Harvard University Press, 1994
The Maxwell Leadership Bible, Lessons in Leadership from the Word of God, John C. Maxwell, Thomas Nelson, 2007
Until next time,
Hi! I'm Kenneth Lillard, author, ordained minister, and motivational speaker. This blog is an expression of some of my thoughts and opinions. I'm glad you stopped by. Hope you'll share some of your comments while you're here. Be Blessed!