Leadership Lessons

How comfortable are you in calling yourself a leader? That is one of the questions asked by Drew Dudley in the Ted Talks video below and a gentle reminder to us all that we are all leaders in some way – whether that’s at work, at home, on the playground, in the gym, or wherever you find yourself spending time.

I personally get a great deal of enjoyment out of engaging leadership ideas, learning new methods and passing along those insights. Over the past few months, I have sought out four unique lessons to share with the college students who work in my office, sharing these lessons before a few of our home games.

Lesson 1 – The Rubber Band.
The principle of the rubber band was kind of a simple one but metaphoric indeed. Taken on it’s own, a rubber band is simply that, a piece of rubber in the shape of a band. Ok. But in order to be useful and in order to perform the duties it was created for, a rubber band must be stretched. When you stretch a rubber band, it can hold things together and keep them tight and close. A rubber band can also be bound with other rubber bands to perform different functions than what it could do on it’s own. As people and as leaders, the challenge is to know that we would not be growing if they weren’t being stretched and forced to confront new challenges. Be like a rubber band – flex, stretch, grow, hold stuff together.

Lesson 2 – The Coin.
I’m not sure where I heard this one, it was likely on a podcast, but I liked it so much that I had to share. The edges of US quarters all have ridges. Upon presentation of this coin to the group, I asked the group to describe the coin and its features – they all came up with the obvious ones until and, after a little encouragement, they finally saw the ridges! The lesson here: there is always more to the story if you are only willing to take the time to look. Be thoughtful. NOTE: I told the story to be much more compelling, so you can feel free to embellish and tell the story however you want.

Lesson 3 – Drew Dudley, Everyday Leadership.
Watch this video and discuss the lesson at the end with someone else for a few minutes: TEDX, Drew Dudley

Lesson 6 – The Candy Team.
I presented this lesson just last weekend and with Halloween being so close to this game, we brought in a huge bag of candy to share. Before handing it all out though, I made sure to save 6 different pieces, including both chocolates and sugary type candies and laid them out on a table. (If you’re doing your own leadership lesson, try to pick out candies that have names relating somewhat to personality types – think Smarties and Nerds – but any candy will do if you’re imaginative enough.)

Next, I told the group that each type of candy represents a different personality type or person and told the group to come up with different traits for each type of candy based on its characteristics. The exact candies I had set aside were: Whoppers, Kit Kat, Nerds, a Jolly Rancher, Hershey’s bar, and a Twizzlers. The group first described how each candy’s characteristics might relate to a personality type (Nerds = smart, Jolly Rancher = always happy, etc.) and then the group was asked to take a piece of candy that they thought best represented their own personality. For a few of them that had a hard time picking one out, others in the group suggested candy types that they thought represented them the best. Granted, this is not a full blown personality test, but we’re getting to the good stuff now…

Once they all had a piece of candy that, based on the candies available, best represented their own personalities, they were asked to reflect on what qualities each personality type brings to the team work environment. How does each individual contribute to the success of the group and how do people of different backgrounds contribute to the overall success of the whole? As part of a large team, we challenged ourselves to look critically at how each person’s individual qualities were different, but also how they complimented each other in terms of getting work done.

It has been a very rewarding experience to see our student workers reflect, develop and grow as they continue to engage with their own existence, as well as their peers and coworkers. My challenge to you, my readers, would be to to this with your own team on a regular basis (once a month is probably a good place to start) and see where things go. None of the above lessons took more than 10-15 minutes and a few of them even less. All you have to do is make a commitment to growth and learning about yourself and others, trying to leave the world around you a little better everyday.

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it – enter your email address in the box to the right to subscribe for email updates on new posts. Thanks for reading Bill’s Sports Business Blog!

Go Forth!

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