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Locker Room Lessons for Leaders

Sep 9, 2015 | Leadership | 14 comments

College Football season is here and I could not be happier. This is my favorite season of the year.

I am a huge Georgia Bulldogs fan and, once again, look to this season with great anticipation. I don’t just love college football because it gives me a chance to cheer on my beloved Dawgs, though. I also love watching the dynamics between the coaches and the players and how they evolve throughout the season and throughout their time with the team.

There, at the helm, teaching valuable life lessons and showing the team what it means to truly be a leader is one very important man—the head coach. He carries a big job on his shoulders, but if he does it well, those lessons will stick with his players for the rest of their lives.

Football coaches are known for their inspiring (and sometimes colorful) locker room talks that provide their players with the inspiration and motivation to rally during a game, even when the odds are against them. In honor of the start of the college football season, here are four things leaders can learn (and a few of my favorite quotes) from college football coaches.

1. Leaders Have Guts

“There’s no substitute for guts.”—Bear Bryant (University of Alabama)

You can be wealthy. You can be powerful. You can be the smartest guy on the planet. But, if you don’t have the guts to make tough decisions or be a stable beacon for your people during the rough times, you aren’t a leader. Period. “There’s no substitute for guts.”—Bear Bryant Click To Tweet There is nothing—not one single thing—that can replace having guts when it comes to leadership. It’s a tough role that inevitably comes with criticism and discourse when people disagree with your decisions and without guts, you will cave to the desires of everyone else and not stand by what you know is right. You will be a weathervane, when what your people really need is a lighthouse.

2. Leaders Look Out for Others

“Treat a person as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat him as what he could be and he will become what he should be.”—Jimmy Johnson (University of Miami)

From the time I was a kid, it was instilled in me that success in life comes from looking out for other people, not just for yourself. Leaders, you have to let people know you appreciate their hard work. Success in life comes from looking out for other people, not just for yourself. Click To Tweet You have to consistently shine a light on them and let them know you want to see them continue to grow and succeed. If you do that, you will find they are so grateful, they will strive to be the person you see in them.

3. Leaders are Prepared to Fight the Battle

“The only thing that helps you win the game is preparation and getting your mind ready to go to battle. That’s what you’ve got to do.”—Mark Richt (University of Georgia)

Opportunities for leaders usually arise during times of trouble and chaos. The only way you are going to succeed for your people in those situations is to go in prepared for the unexpected and to fight your tail end off to reach the goal. Leaders have to be the face of calm confidence, regardless of what is falling apart. Click To Tweet You’re going to have to be the face of calm confidence, regardless of what is falling apart around you and you’re going to have to rally your people to stay the course, even when things look bleak. If you aren’t prepared to take all that on, you are going down with the sinking ship and, unfortunately, you’re taking everyone down with you.

4. Leaders Work for Success

“I have yet to be in a game where luck was involved.” –Urban Meyer (Ohio State University)

You don’t succeed on the football field or in life by depending solely on luck. Sure, we all get lucky breaks sometimes, but those come along by chance. Success is a choice. “I have yet to be in a game where luck was involved.” –Urban Meyer Click To Tweet When people are successful in life, it’s because they faced situations and circumstances head on and put in the time and hard work. The truth is, success doesn’t require a lot of brains, talent or luck. Leaders know that success requires showing up every day, taking the right actions and being a good person.

Just like your favorite football teams, you are going to have wins and losses as a leader and your team is going to be looking to you to help them get past the losses and stay motivated enough to score a win. Take a page from these college coaches, and arm yourself with the knowledge and tools to give them a locker room pep talk that will help your team rally–even when the odds are against them.

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