Leadership Lessons from College Football

Over the past few years, we all have read the disturbing news about college football programs in the middle of a scandals. The latest one is Penn State. I never want to kick a person when they are down or perceived to be down. That is not my style. What kicked off this scandal is the worst thing imaginable. I have coached youth sports for most of my adult life and when I hear what happened, it make my stomach turn. Just terrible! I hope that the alleged victim’s get all of the help they need to get over these horrific acts. My intention is not to look at each set of scandals and place blame or point a finger at people. If we learn nothing from what has happened over the past 5 years, we should learn to how to handle leadership within the programs that most of America watches with a passion.

Here are some things that I believe that should be considered:

  • Setting up very discreet reviewed time limits. Most programs or employees have yearly review of performance. I think within that particular review the overall review should not just be able wins, loses and where did you end up within the BCS ranking. It is time to really demonstrate leadership… Develop a package that is about graduation rates, GPA for student athletes, social and moral code of conduct and really focus on life learning. It is all about accountability for everything a program should stand for. These reviews should be tough and really focused.  Stand up and celebrate your successes.. Work on those items that missed the mark.
  • Succession planning. It is time to make sure that within every program there is a real and developed succession plan. Setting up your program and keeping it for the long haul is really how well the program develops the talent that they have and attract. In this day and age, with coaches moving to head coaching positions all over, succession planning could be a difficult task. If you have the right people and take care of them, they will stay. If not, than they will take the lessons learned and apply those to another institution. Which if done right, just means another great program will start up. Everyone wins…
  • Hold everyone (up and down the organization) accountable for the overall organization! For college football, that is being accountable to the university and what the code the university stands for. The football team (players and coaches) are not the university, but need to be a reflection of the university.

It amazes me how many coaches have written books about leadership and then we watch them fall from their soapbox. Ever leader has to take a look deep into themselves and be proud of every aspect of their actions. From all indications, coach Wooden was spot on in his teachings and actions. That is one example that I have modeled my coaching after. Don’t get me wrong there are lots of fine examples out there. Some really recent coaches that are doing the right things, right. I just hope that they can keep their course and not let someone or something distract them from complete success.

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