Sometimes We Complicate Leadership Too Much

golden leader

Leading is hard, but the principles and practice of leading don’t have to be as difficult as we make them at times.

I talk to leaders every week who are stressed out by the things they know they should be doing but aren’t getting done. They’ve read a blog — maybe even this one — they read a book, they attended a seminar or conference and they feel defeated.

Sometimes I think we complicate leadership too much.

I often tell leaders who want to improve to think of one or two areas in their organization or church, or in their personal leadership style, that they’d like to improve upon and take some small steps to make something positive happen in that area. Don’t start big. Start small. One bite of the elephant at a time. Take one thing you learned and implement it in a small way. Get better at it. Over time, do it more. Simple. (At least simpler in concept.)

If a leader is continually doing that over time they will start to see major improvement. 

For example, a leader who knows he or she isn’t building new leaders, and recognizes the need, could set a goal to help develop one or two leaders this year. Currently no leadership development is being done. Replace that with discovering how and implementing the development of just a couple new leaders.

  • Meet with them regularly.
  • Find out their strengths.
  • Find out their weaknesses.
  • Seek ways to develop their strengths.
  • Help them learn to minimize their weaknesses.
  • Talk with them through your own leadership experience — good and bad.
  • Introduce them to new resources, new opportunities, new challenges, other leaders.

That’s not simple, and it’s not profound, but it is doable and it starts moving things in a more positive direction. With intentionality, discipline and practice, that simple effort can lead to systematizing leadership development in a larger scale in the future.

Sticking with this example, the problem for many of us is that we start at the overwhelming sense that we have nothing. So we try to begin with some complex system of leadership development. It is too big and too fast and so nothing ever gets off the ground.

You may have heard some big, lofty ideas. That’s great. They stretch you, but simplify it in your mind. Place it within your current context.

Start small. Make incremental improvements. Learn from the process. Improve. Increase. Add to. Grow. Systematize. Booyah.

How Leadership Principles Apply to Coach Cal and the UK Basketball Program

Businessman with basketball ball, teamwork, leadership

My friend Bradley Stevenson wrote a post about Kentucky basketball. Isn’t everyone these days? Well, not everyone, but lots of people are around here. UK basketball is a topic of conversation wherever you go in Lexington this time of year.

And, all the chatter hasn’t been positive this year. You are obviously not a basketball fan if you couldn’t figure that one out for yourself.

But, Bradley’s post was different. It was challenging, but encouraging at the same time. It resonated with people. Lots of people. Read “An Open Letter to Coach Cal (Coaches, Players and Fans)”.

Then Bradley did something only a friend would do. He asked me if I had any leadership advice to offer the UK basketball program. What? Me? I’m a student of leadership, but I’m only a casual basketball fan. I love the game. I go to the games. I wear the team colors. I cheer. But, my greatest passions are consumed in other directions. (Like Jesus. I’m passionate about Him. And, leadership. And the church.).

Anyway, Bradley’s a friend, or at least he claims to be (we’ll see how good a friend after this post goes live), so I decided to comply with his request. We did it in an interview fashion. And, knowing how much I like (and use) the number 7, Bradley asked me 7 questions about my leadership advice for Coach Cal and the UK basketball program.

Here were the questions:

  • What’s your best leadership advice when dealing with negativity?
  • How do you motivate your team during difficult times?
  • How do you stay focused during difficult times?
  • What do you say to naysayers?
  • If you had 5 minutes with Coach Cal what advice would you give him?
  • Same question, but about the team! If you had 5 minutes with the team (without Coach Cal) what advice would you give them?
  • Finally, if you had 5 minutes with the UK fans…what would you say?

You can read my answers on Bradley’s blog post, “A Leadership Perspective for Coach Cal, Players and Fans“.

Be warned. I’m a leadership guy. And, this is basketball. Big Blue Nation basketball. That’s serious stuff around here. And, I live here. Please be nice.

Let’s talk sports. Or leadership. How do you see the two subjects related?

And, for bonus points…

Who, in your opinion, is the best leader as a coach in sports today?