In sports, the military, police forces, or any other domain where winning and losing have HUGE consequences, world class leadership is not optional. It is paramount to success. A well trained, talented team will fall to pieces with bad leadership very quickly. In some occupations, that means letters are written to loved ones expressing condolences. Leadership is not a luxury, and it is not treated as one. It is expected and continuously developed.
To avoid this article getting too heavy, let’s go back to sports for leadership examples. In 1987, I attended my first professional hockey game with my high school girlfriend, Amy. Her Dad had two season tickets he could not use, so he gave then to us. My first hockey game was watching the Washington Capitals play game 7, round 1 of the playoffs on April 18, 1987. It went into four overtimes and ended with a loss after a slapshot from NY Islanders Pat LaFontaine found the net after over six hours of play. I was hooked.
The Caps have always been my team, and I was recently rewarded with them winning the Stanley Cup after 44 years of trying. Most people will agree that part of their success was due to the leadership of team captain, Alex Ovechkin. He is one of the best players in the league, but his leadership is what makes everyone around him better. He sets the example. He encourages his teammates. He knows when to pass the puck to a better positioned person instead of demanding it is always in his control.
Selfless. Inspirational. Results oriented. THAT is what leadership is about. It is not something that has to be a divine gift. It can be cultivated, and you can start today. Watch the video.