Photo credit: Denis Collette
We’ve all worked with people with strong leadership qualities; sometimes they are peers and sometimes they are running the organization (or should be).
Great leaders still learn from others; they empower, inspire, coach and lead by example. They have a lot of integrity. They do the right thing, they believe in transparency and they believe in the people of their organization. They don’t participate in games of control, gossip or pettiness.
They are islands of calm in great storms. They acknowledge the contributions of others.
They are teachers and visionaries.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes about leadership:
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
John F. Kennedy
“Leadership is not magnetic personality—that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’—that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”
Peter F. Drucker
“Great necessities call forth great leaders.”
What else would you add to this list?
Last night I watched a 60 Minutes interview with Pete Carroll, head coach of the USC football team. Pete spent a few years as an NFL coach before USC. Actually he was fired from both the Jets and Patriots jobs. When asked about being fired from the Jets after one year, he said “Best thing that ever happened to me. “
You get the sense from the interview that he’s not just putting a positive spin on career disappointments. He honestly believed that a better opportunity would emerge. Now he’s one of the most successful college football coaches and leading a community effort to stop gang violence in L.A.
“But I didn’t go out thinking I’d failed. I was looking, ‘Let me go, let’s go to the next shot. Let’s go, let’s get this thing right.'”
He described his coaching philosophy as “Win Forever.” It is about “finding out how good you could become at something and then making it come to life.” What I found most interesting is how he is taking this philosophy into some of the most violent neighborhoods in L.A. in an attempt to get rival gangs to cooperate with each other and end violence. He’s formed a non profit group called A Better L.A. that brings together gang members, community organizers and law enforcement officials. He visits inner city neighborhoods late at night to talk to young people about working together to create a better life. Carroll sees that as his life’s work: teach young people, not just ball players, to seize every opportunity and make the most of it.
In once scene, a sixteen-year-old boy describes how he thinks about how he’ll either die or end up in jail.
Coach Carroll’s response, “To just say I am going to die or I am going to jail and live with that. That’s more likely to happen the longer you keep thinking that. That’s why it’s so important for us to go and create hope. And to help people with their vision and to help them understand what they can become.”
“Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. And sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching. And, you know, the greatest of things can happen,” Carroll said.