Often what we need to get to the next level isn’t an Earth-shattering new idea, it’s simply a great reminder of what we already know. And sometimes the teacher is actually the student. Technically, I was the teacher last week when I spoke at the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Asssociation 2015 annual convention, but I quickly became the student.
When I met my audience I received a great reminder. It’s one we can all stand to learn from.
Strength and conditioning coaches are leadership personified. I spent three days with 2,000 of the biggest, fastest, strongest, healthiest group of people you’ll ever meet. What they do in their daily work with their clients (college athletes) applies to each and every one of us in the work we do and the clients we serve. As I thought about the phenomenal impression they all made on me, it got me thinking about precisely what leadership is at its core. Even more so, it made me take a long, hard look in the mirror.
You’ve probably heard the expression he or she “just gets it.” Well, when it comes to leadership these coaches all “get it.” I didn’t see any lazy, disengaged, unhappy, overweight or unhealthy looking people sitting in that audience anywhere. Not a single one. (I also didn’t see them drinking at the bar late into the night, which is a common occurrence at most conventions.) These folks were the epitome of high performance. They walk their talk 100 percent.
The entire experience was a great reminder that when it comes to leadership, your example isn’t the main thing, it’s the only thing. Think about it: How do these coaches convince world-class athletes they are capable of being bigger, faster and stronger? Quite simply, they do it by being bigger, faster and stronger themselves.
Our lives are a mirror, what we give out gets reflected back to us by others.
Whatever you’re doing is contagious. We are all living proof of that statement. I know from experience and their example of excellence in action got me reflecting back on my personal and professional life.
- Balance is contagious. I found that when I wasn’t modeling balance for my team, they weren’t balanced.
- Negativity is contagious. When I criticized the officials, my players did.
- Conversely, when they were nervous during a big game or a key timeout, if I was calm their nerves would settle and they’d become calm. Calm is contagious.
Whatever I did was contagious and whatever you do is contagious.
Related: 6 Ways to Build a More Cohesive Team
In late 2014, I had an executive coaching client complain to me that most of his employees were “negative and low effort” (his words). I encouraged him to stop keeping “banker’s hours” and be more positive and kind to them. (They just posted their best quarter since 2006.)
Common sense, right? Unfortunately, common sense isn’t common practice. We need to be the change we wish to see in others. The people you lead need a model to see, not just a motto to say. They crave authenticity and can sniff out BS a mile away.
I share this with you because being at the CSCCa convention was an important reminder that I need to heed this advice as much as anyone. I have a 9 year old who has ADHD. If I want her to be less impulsive and more mindful, I need to practice mindfulness and emulate it better for her at work and at home.
I also have an emotional 11 year old who is prone to drama and outbursts. If I want her to be calm and patient, guess what I have to get better at with her and with my clients?
A good example is what we all need to set because there is no leadership without leadership by example. Leadership without leadership by example isn’t leading -- it’s fraud.
No one is going to buy what you’re selling if you don’t own it yourself first.
Our professional lives are inextricably linked to our personal lives. Therefore, we need to be the change we wish to see in the employees we lead, the clients we serve, the children we raise and the spouse we married. Remember, whatever you’re doing, it’s contagious.
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