I like to find nuggets of the real world in sports since as a former sportswriter I’m always intrigued at how people fail to see professional sports as a job and business.
They see the games, but not the hard work that goes into being elite. And what they really don’t see is how leaders are made. In corporate America, we have leadership training; all sorts of methodologies and processes to create leaders. In sports, leaders create themselves and I find it fascinating that we don’t think that way in our organizations.
I love this quote from NY Giants linebacker Jameel McClain, who was just signed this year. “The media likes to make the person that makes the most money the leader,” McClain said in an NY Daily News story that focused on filling a leadership void created by injury. “I see the guy who just works hard and cares more about others than he cares about himself as a leader.”
So here’s is a guy, who the team just signed this offseason and hasn’t played in a game yet (the team is going through offseason workouts now) who is already a leader. Did the coaches appoint him? No. Did the team send him through management training? No. Did he get to be a leader based on his title? No, no and no.
We miss so many easy wins in our organizations with leaders. We think the only way to find them is to train them or give them leadership responsibilities based on a job description. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
This is as true in a social or community based organization as it is on the football field. Hierarchy doesn’t make leaders, leaders make themselves.