Black Sheep Leadership

All of us at some form or another are leaders whether it’s in our business, on the athletic field, or in our homes. Leadership is a skill that should be studied and mastered. I look back at my time on the football field in high school, and I cringe at the thought of my lack of leadership. All I cared about was my own glory. I didn’t stop to think that I had a chance to influence lives. I had a chance to motivate young men to be better than they thought possible. If I had taken the time to motivate and lead, I could have changed the way these young men looked at life.

In my role as a coach of over 200 people both at the Mash Mafia Facility and over the web, I try to use my influence and leadership to motivate my athletes to become better people in general. I do the same with my employees and partners. At the end of the day, my success is riding on the success of my athletes, employees, and partners. If they fail, I do too, and I refuse to let that happen.

Lately, I have spent a lot of time improving my leadership ability. One of the books that I am reading right now is “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. I am on my second time through the book, and I keep finding nuggets. Winning friends is an invaluable trait that all great business owners and athletic leaders possess. If people like you, they will follow you to the end.

My friend KJ is now the CEO of his own company in Dallas, TX. He is the greatest leader that I have ever known. He is also the original black sheep. He never went along with the grain. The secret to his success is his ability to make people like him, and his ability to make people believe that they are capable of greatness. This is rule #1! Find what people are good at, and make them the best at it! Always focus on what people are doing well, and then give them instructions on what they could do better. No one wants to constantly hear about what they are doing poorly. We all inherently want approval from others, so as leaders give people what they want.

KJ could convince me to do just about anything because he made me believe that I was the best at it. This goes for athletes as well as business. For example, if you are a quarterback, and your receiver is dropping passes try this. Instead of telling him how terrible of a receiver he is, first comment on the impressive route that he just ran. Then explain if he works at watching the ball into his hands, he will be an all-state receiver for sure.

Rule # 2 is “no one wins an argument”. When you hear someone make a statement that you know to be false think before you act. Does it really matter? Are you wanting to correct the person to make yourself feel important at the cost of making the person feel small? When you argue, no one wins, ever! If you win, the person that you debated leaves thinking that you are a no it all busy body. If you lose, well you just lost. Probably you will both leave still believing that the other person was wrong, so you just wasted the entire time and now someone is upset.

This rule is one that I am working on constantly. For some reason, I have had an issue with letting people simply make statements that I knew to be untrue. When I think about it, I am correcting the person to affirm that fact that I am smart. However, I am doing this at the cost of hurting someone else’s feelings, and that isn’t good for anybody. If you can let little things go, then do it.

Rule # 3 when major changes need to be made, allow your team to make them. Change is difficult for a lot of people. The easiest way to get people’s buy in is to let them make the decision to change. Most people are smart. When clear cut facts are laid out and possible solutions are on the table, most people can recognize the correct solutions. Your job is to lead them down the right path.

When a team makes the decision together, there is a collective approach to implementing the strategy. If you are trying to lead your team or company like a dictator, don’t be upset when the revolution begins. Most people are black sheep in nature. Eventually their white fluff will begin to darken, so I say throw on the dirt. Let them make decisions that you have educated them on.

My friend KJ is the very one that turned me into a black sheep, and now I am trying to do it to the world. People want a sense of worth, a purpose, and some meaning. No one wants to come to work and blindly follow the rules of some crazy dictator. As leaders, our job is to bring the best out of people. Help your team find their inner greatness.

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