You won’t have to be fearful about how you’ll lead your team. You won’t have to worry about what the team will think of you if you “correct” them. Why?? Because these two keys are going to unlock the door to the REAL world of leadership.

I remember when I first received a leadership “position”.

*I’m the guy on the right in case you were wondering!

Don’t Laugh. It was at Mont Lawn Camp, a summer camp for city youth. I was the Middle Unit Leader. A position that oversaw 6 middle unit counselors and potentially 36-48 kids. The memory comes up not because of what I did there but how I was chosen.

The summer before my super-hero status, I was a middle unit counselor. And I didn’t even have the idea to want to become the unit leader.

So what happened in the year between, that made the camp leaders feel safe to offer me the unit leader position? Someone gave me a book to read! During camp orientation the following summer, I shared with my co-workers how great this book was! I was excited to share it!

The leaders told me in the end of the summer evaluations that sharing about something I read was the reason they gave me the position. They said the reason they felt safe giving me the position was that they saw me on a personal development path, revealed by my reading and sharing from the book I had read.

So is this it? Is reading the key I’m talking about? No. keep on reading.

Years later, my mentor taught me a lesson about the two types of leaders. “Those that tell you that they are, and ones that show you that they are.” Deep huh?!

The ones that tell you that they are reveal themselves in different ways though. It’s like the illustration in the story of ‘The Garden of Eden’. The devil persuaded Adam and Eve to do something based on his word alone. These type of people use persuasion to get you to follow them for their own ends. Either emotional gratification or material satisfaction. They don’t care about you the person, only you the skill.

The ones that show you that they are reveal themselves through the illustration of Jesus at the last supper. When he was washing his disciples feet. He showed them what it looked like to be a leader first, then told them, this is what a leader is. It is service. It is fulfilling the needs of the immediate people that you are around first. You must know their need. Not Yours.

Here are the TWO KEYS:

1. Show then Tell
Don’t come into the new season proclaiming that you are a leader. Or even thinking that you are one. Show the coach that you are on the path of personal development by how you carry yourself. Trust me, the coach will notice it. And your teammates will notice the difference too, and you “correcting” them won’t matter to them. Why? Because you have already shown that you subscribe to excellence!

2. Supply don’t Demand
A great leader supplies their team with what the team needs, then asks it of them. Whether it is emotional support, getting them up early to workout, or aligning them back with the purpose of the program etc. A great leader supplies their teammates with what they need so that later it can be asked of them.

Only when you lead yourself can you know what to supply when you are leading others.

*oh, and in case you were wondering…my super-hero name at summer camp was MIDDLE MAN!

What have you begun to learn already in this off-season about yourself?
Share story of you leading and what you learned from the experience?

Click comment link below to leave your response on what you got from this first week.

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6 Responses

  1. Challenging the status quo on leadership… Its definitely the truth. If you want a better leadership model than what has normally been taught, just SERVE. I agree whole heartedly that its not about walking “ahead of”, its more about walking “beside”. Invest in others and you will lead by default.

    Keep them coming. Great stuff.

    • Coach, isn’t that what true guiding is about? Traditionally guiding, used from a hiking analogy, is someone ahead of you and you following. But the assumption is that the person following has the same fitness as you(the leader). We need people “with” us not in front of us…right??

  2. You gave me something to chew on… A leader does before he says . Great post Ira.

    • It’s true though huh? And I am sure that that insight was not news for you. I believe that most people know this. But they seem to get really excited when they learn a new technique, idea or framework, that they want to share with others so that others can see “the light” like them. What they have forgot was to do is live the advice first!

      Isn’t that how it is???!

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