Lessons on Leadership

Updated: Dec 27, 2020

After I graduated college, in a fit of reckless abandon that had nothing to do with my bachelor’s in history, I decided to become a coach. I was looking for something interesting, fun and not necessarily practical.

My idea was always to be happy with my life and, hopefully, success would follow. I never became a high-level coach. I started at the collegiate level, NJCAA DIII, then to NCAA Division III, dabbled in the ranks of the private high school and then finally returned to small college DIII. We did well, made playoffs when the team had not done so before, garnering praise from opposing coaches for our competitiveness and attitude. One year we even won the New England Collegiate Conference, advancing to the NCAA tournament.

My thoughts as a coach always revolved around improvement: physical, mental, emotional, individual, programmatic and institutional. In my mind, I was not simply coaching a team of young men and women. My concept of coaching went far beyond the field, down to the core of who each of my student-athletes were as people. I analyzed them constantly, not just with regards to sports but also as to what made them who they were and what I could do to put a grain in their brain that could alter whom they would become. I wanted to get the most from them.

After my coaching career ended, which was self-inflicted, I moved on to become an Associate Athletic Director, and I believed leadership concepts were universal. I still do! Introducing certain ideas into the mind of a player, coach or employee is the same whether in athletics or a corporate setting. The ideas are the same, how do we reach our staffs and get them to start thinking about more than just daily tasks and what is immediately in front of them?

How things are framed may be slightly altered; the interaction between boss and subordinate will undoubtedly be more casual than if they were full-time, but the concepts are the same.

Leadership alignment

One needs to preach departmental alignment of thought and direction from the very beginning. This can begin during the interview process, continue in the initial meeting with staffs and be emphasized throughout the year.

In my view, alignment is the most important concept when putting together a staff and leading it in a direction. This is affected by both internal and external entities but should be clear and apparent to the individuals of your team. A leader needs to be able to align the thought and direction of a team.

An essential quality of being a lea