The Source of Great Leadership

The Source of Great Leadership post image

It was half time and the girls left the field frustrated.  They were down by 1 point in a game they expected to dominate.

An undefeated season and the pride of adding a banner memorializing their team in the gym were at stake.  Yet for whatever reason, they just couldn’t pull it together in the first half. Watching from the sidelines was nerve-wracking. I can only imagine what it felt like for them.

After a seemingly long halftime, the horn blew indicating it was time to return to the field.  It quickly became apparent that something had changed because a very different team bounded onto the field.

Not only could we see it – we could all feel it as well.  There was no doubt they wanted to win and each and every player on the field clearly started to give their best.

At the sound of the final horn they gathered in triumph.  They had won by a healthy margin.

As they joined us on the sidelines we asked a few of the girls what the coach said at halftime that caused the change in them for the second half.  We had wondered: did he yell at them or deliver an inspirational speech?  One of the parents made us all laugh by suggesting he must have come up with a really good bribe.  Whatever he said or did, clearly it had worked.

We then learned it wasn’t the coach who lit the fire.  It was one of the girls.

The girls shared about the heartfelt speech from one of their teammates that had them return to the field determined to win.  Losing was not an option.

The funny thing is that no one could remember what she said.  All they could remember was how they felt.  They were left moved and motivated to step up their game in a big way.  One girl shared she had tears in her eyes as she returned to the field.

This was a reminder for me that great leadership comes from who you are being, not the words you say. Tweet This

Now the words you choose can, of course, make a difference.  Yet even your words are a reflection of who you are, what you think and how you see the world.  It is the words you generate from your heartfelt commitments and beliefs that will make the biggest difference in those moment of truth.

Eloquence may impress people, but well chosen words delivered artfully will never trump a heart felt delivery.

Ultimately, it is who you are being, not your words, that is the real source of great leadership – the kind of leadership that inspires others to be and do their very best.

Focus on what really matters and you can trust that the right words will come.  Substance will win over form every time.  And that is great news for all of those would be or could be leaders out there.

Whether or not you are THE leader, speaking from your heart is an access for any one of us to be a leader in any moment.

Think of a time when you have had an experience of being moved and motivated by someone in one of those critical moments? What do you think was the source of their leadership?


Image credit: andresr / 123RF Stock Photo


Enter A Comment

camille smith   |   30 April 2014   |   Reply

great article. inspiration from ‘those among us’ not those in the corner office. i’m thinking the coach was wise (did a leadership move) to step back and them the leader step up.

Susan Mazza   |   10 May 2014   |   Reply

Great point about the coach. A leader must learn to step back if they want others to step up. Thanks Camille!