Blogpost, SoccerLifeBalance

Leaders Go First; Leaders Eat Last

As we get closer to the beginning of a new school year and (possibly) new soccer season, leadership is a topic that has been on my mind. Leadership is a crucial component to a successful team. The unfortunate thing is that many people see leadership from the outside and make assumptions about it. Or have only ever experienced poor leadership and assume that is what it looks like. I’ve put two contrasting ideas here in order to encapsulate what true leadership is about.

A picture taken directly before going zip-lining. I’m majorly afraid of heights but I went because my kids needed me show them how to face fear head on.

Leaders go first is a statement that I repeat to my players often. It should be obvious because the word leader has the word “lead” in it. Despite this fact, many people miss it. The plain and simple fact is that in order to earn a position of leadership, you need to be willing to go first. A leader doesn’t need to go first all of the time but those in her or his charge need know without a doubt that the leader can/will do everything that they are asked to do. Many people try to lead from their position. This means that they have a position of power, therefore people should follow them. Although it can work out just fine, it has the potential to cause a “do as I say, not as I do” mentality/perception. This can be problematic because people follow people, not positions, at least not for long. Recognizing this fact is important. Eventually the shine of the title will wear off and the people in your charge be left with you. The title makes you accountable. The people under you need you to be responsible meaning “able to respond”. It is the thumbs before fingers ethos. Leaders need to respond without pointing the finger.

Leaders Eat Last is the title of a great book by Simon Sinek. It’s based on a practice in the Marine Corps where higher ranking officer eat after their subordinates. This seems backward and coupled with the first paragraph makes leadership seem like a raw deal. However it makes perfect sense. Leaders eat last because if they have done their job effectively then their subordinates will want to be sure there is food left for them. We’ve gotten far too accustomed to people in leadership positions taking all of the spoils that come with their position regardless of their subordinates. These relationships do not exist in a vacuum. Our hierarchical system allows for leaders to take some of the riches that come in. However when they don’t meet their leadership mandate of looking out for those under them, the system is out of balance and can topple. Simon Sinek’s book does a wonderful job of describing the biochemical system that creates effective leadership. This video gives an overview. Regardless of whether you understand the biochemistry, you need to understand the bookends of the leader.

Leaders live in a dichotomy where they must be both above and below the people that follow them. This is not 100% literal nor is it 100% of the time. The leader needs to model the behavior for those who are following and help protect them when things go sideways. Again this seems like a raw deal. If it is done well though, a leader will reap the benefits of all of that selflessness by having it returned tenfold. Serve your people so well that they want to serve you! Support your people so well that they want to support you! Protect your people so well that they want to protect you!

After all of this talk about leadership, it might be easy to say “I don’t want to be a leader.” Unfortunately, no matter what you are the leader of at least one person: yourself. Now is the time to step forward. Leaders go first, leaders eat last! Be a leader because there are far too many followers.

Go get it!

Pete

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SoccerLifeBalance

Mourinho, Management and More Peter Loge (Author of Soccer Thinking for Management Success)

PeterLogePhotoIn this episode, Peter Loge and I have a wide-ranging conversation on soccer’s many uses as a metaphor.  Peter is the author of “Soccer Thinking for Management Success.”  Throughout the book, he discusses several different ways that soccer overlaps with management concepts.  Check out his work at www.soccerthinking.com

self-reliance

The Boy Who Cried Wolf (Revisited)

BoywhocriedwolfCautionary tales like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” seem to be less prevalent than in the past.  Perhaps that is just my perception or my own implementation of life lessons to my kids.  I remember exactly who told me this story and for what reason.  It had the desired effect.  In third grade, I would frequently “not feel well” in order to be sent down to the nurse’s office.  Once my visits became frequent enough, the nurse recounted the story of the boy who cried wolf.  My visits to her office became more legitimate.

Although the moral of the story is extremely clear, it might be worth a revisit because it could go further.  In the end, the boy gets hurt because the townspeople don’t believe him.  His dishonesty lead  to pain because it short-circuited the system that was intended to protect him.  While this moral has served me and countless others well, let’s go further.

The boy not only put himself in peril, he also robbed himself.  He robbed himself of the experience of watching how the townspeople dealt with wolves.  His deception was a short term diversion that took away his long term solution.  If he had been diligent in his duties, he may have seen that scaring off the wolves was something that he could eventually do on his own.  Developing this skill set over time could have saved his life in the future.

This revisited moral is possibly even more useful than the original now.  The world is full of alarms, warning devices and security systems that keep us safe from “wolf attacks”.  However with all of this “protection” are we going to be ready to act when things go sideways.  If we are always providing our young people with a “safe space”, will they know how to handle themselves when real dangers show up?  Hope is not a strategy.  Hoping that the systems in place will be enough to cover all eventualities actually leaves those on the inside helpless.  So don’t hope that nothing will happen, take steps to prepare for those possibilities.

Systems can be great and it is completely fine that we depend on them, until it’s not.  Following the credo of the Boy Scouts, “be prepared!”  You don’t know what is coming in your future but if you never consider what’s possible in either the positive or the negative, then you’re bound to be unprepared.    We’ve all got exactly one objective in life: FCO (Figure Crap Out!).  That’s it!  You don’t deserve a problem free life.  You can only create one.  Not by eradicating all problems but by preparing for so many eventualities that you’re never caught by surprise!

Get ready people!

Pete

SoccerLifeBalance

Being Intentional in Coaching and Leadership – Donna Fishter (Leadership Coach and Team Architect)

donna fishter consultingDonna Fishter is a Leadership Coach and Team Architect who works with athletes and coaches in order to make their teams better.  In this conversation we cover some of the ingredients of good leadership, red flags and remedies for poor team chemistry as well as an assortment of other topics.  You can find Big D at http://www.donnafishter.com

Click the link to see: A List of Big D’s Favorite Books, Videos, Speakers, etc.

 

 

Uncategorized

Leaders and Followers

LeadButtonIn a world where almost anyone can have 1,000 or more followers, who is doing the leading?  It seems as though there should be a connection between the two: leaders and followers.  Unfortunately the act of following has such a low threshold for involvement that many have it as the default option.  Following is easy, semi-rewarding and comes with little to no responsibility.  The problem is that just because people are following, doesn’t mean that anyone intends to lead.  Following the car in front of you is a good strategy if you’re going to the same place.  It’s a horrible strategy if your intentions are different than the person you’re following.  Leadership should be an intention, not meandering with followers in tow.  So the question is, who should be a leader?  You!

You should be a leader of at least one person if not more.  Leadership is needed now probably more than ever before in the history of the world.  The reason that leadership is in such high demand is because we as a people got so damn good at following.  We’ve become so exceedingly talented at following that we barely recognize our power to lead.  That power starts with you and your choices.  Are you leading your own life or following the rules, path or suggestions from someone else?  There is nothing wrong with following the path, if it leads where you want to go.  The issue comes from following out of complacency, fear or doubt.  These are not usually the emotions that cause greatness.

Desire, courage and self-belief are the kindling that begin the fires of greatness.  We were all meant to be leaders of at least one person.  Lead yourself in the direction that you most desire to go.  Have the courage to take steps forward.  Believe in your ability to string enough of those steps together to succeed.  Perhaps when you’ve developed the leadership muscle enough, you’ll be ready to take on followers.  Just make sure that they are following you with intention.

Pete

Good song below!

 

Uncategorized

Winning vs. Leading

DaxGoalAs a teacher of language, I often find fault with the English language.  It falls short in many ways.  It breaks its own rules.  Pronunciation is ambiguous and changes happen all the time.  Probably my biggest gripe with English is that many of the things we say are either misleading or cause us to look at things in a way that does not serve us.

One instance of this vocabulary problem is from my position as a coach.  The phrase “we’re winning” needs to go.  It is something that I know I’ve said before because it’s what prompted me to write this post.  Winning is worthless until you have won.  Even worse is that realizing that you’re winning causes a sense of comfort and a change in attitude toward the game.

Until you’ve won, you’re leading.  Leading does not imply a result but rather a process.  Leading means that you’re ahead of the opponent but they are still there.  Leading is something that can be taken away if you let it.  Leading is difficult and a struggle.  It takes effort and focus to lead until the end but if you want to win, it’s what you have to do.

Don’t let the word trick you.  You’re not winning or losing.  Either you’re leading or you’re trailing!