Leadership Requires Listening As Much As Leading
Leadership and football go hand in hand. Obvious examples of leadership are a coach to the team and the quarterback to the offense. But leadership on the field actually happens from all players striving to make each other better. It’s common to see veteran players “coaching up” rookies and younger players on things to look for in an offense or defense.
And while I received lots of leadership when I played football, I’ll never forget the time I lost a position because I refused to listen to my coach. It was back in Pop Warner Football, which is aimed at youth ages five to fourteen. I had played many positions in my Pop Warner career; wide receiver, tight end, punter, kicker, free safety, cornerback, and defensive end. Yeah, I was pretty versatile as a tike.
One day one of the new kids to Tahoe was hanging around the football field watching practice. Nobody really knew him since he was so new. In fact, I don’t think anyone really liked him at all. (Ok…that’s a lie. My negativity toward him will be explained in a minute.)
As I finished up, he asked if it was ok if he kicked a couple. Being the nice and gracious guy I was, I said, sure. Mistake! Biiiiiig mistake. As he tee’d up the football, he moved back just like me, but then he moved to the side. He ran at an angle toward the ball and BAM!!! Right through the center of the uprights. (Actually, the practice field only had soccer goals, so technically over the top of the soccer goal.)
Now this wouldn’t normally have been an issue, except that one of our coaches had stayed back. He took notice of the kid cranking the balls over the goal with amazing precision. Next thing you know, my coach is having a kick-off between me and new guy.
My coach said, “Chris, just do what you always do.” Yeah…apparently that day I decided, from fear of losing my place, to try and kick like soccer boy. Even though I had never tried it. While normally I would crank the ball over the goal, I started shanking balls left and right.
My coach kept saying, “Chris, just kick the ball straight. Quit trying to kick it his way. Do it the way you’ve always done it.” Yeah, no chance. Every time I just about connected with the ball I would turn my foot and the ball would wobble like a water logged Nerf off to the side.
All I had to do was listen to my coach and do what he was telling me and I would have placed those balls over the goal each time. Instead, new guy ended up with my position. Compare that with how I listened to my ski coach in Is That What You’re Wearing? and you’ll start to see a pattern.
Sometimes, it’s easy in leadership to get to a point where you feel like you have all the answers. The problem is, when you stop taking advice and ideas from others, you stifle your business and productivity.
Ecclesiastes 4:13 says – “Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning.”
Question: What experiences do you have in your life where not listening caused you to lose out?