Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke


College Inspiration

Volume: January-mid 2009

By Doug Van Dyke, Leadership Simplified, www.leadershipsimplified.com

Within the last four days, three young student-athletes have made remarkable choices that are worthy of our examination. First, Tim Tebow, who has been on two national championship teams, won a Heisman trophy and come close to winning another, has decided to stay in school and complete his education. Now, you pundits out there might say “Hey, he is not going to be a pro quarterback anyway.” But consider this, he could go pro now and easily make a few million dollars. How many of us would not take the money and run? Secondly, Myron Rolle, an all-American safety from Florida State has decided to go to Oxford and become a Rhodes Scholar rather than enter the NFL draft – where he is projected to be an early-round pick. Lastly, Taylor Mays from USC, another all-American safety, has decided to return for his senior year, as opposed to entering the draft. All of these collegiates have a bigger purpose, a broader long-term goal in their minds. These are remarkable events and mature decisions.      

Let’s take a peek at a handful of the marvelous leadership qualities these fine young men have exhibited by their actions.

  1. Inspiration. If you are not inspired by some of the comments and quality choices that these guys have made, then you obviously didn’t get choked up when Old Yeller got put down. Any one of these guys could be making millions of dollars within the next few months, but rather than going for the dough they are staying in school and looking to the greater good. My goodness, do you know how rare that is in this age? The great news: we don’t have just one role model doing it, we have a handful and probably a bunch more if we looked harder.
    Lesson for leaders: What element of selfless inspiration are you providing to your team? Trust me, your people are thirsting for it.
  2. Focus. These guys are lasered-in on what matters in their life. More impressively, they have a potpourri of distractions, not the least of which is riches which would make them financially set for life. They are pursuing noble causes and doing it in a classy manner.
    Lesson for leaders: Are you focused on what truly matters in your business? What direct intervention are you providing to your team to separate distracting noise from salient action?
  3. Optimism. Tebow, Rolle, and Mays are all optimists. They would have to be to postpone or perhaps miss-out on million dollar paydays. They believe in themselves. Perhaps more importantly, they believe in those around them.
    Lesson for leaders: Do you believe in your team? If so, make certain that they are keenly aware of your confidence.
  4. Smart Work. Certainly Rolle, Mays, and Tebow are naturally gifted. But reflect back to a sentiment that Tim Tebow shared when early in season his team was defeated by an unranked opponent. In essence, Tim stated that no quarterback in the nation was going to work harder; no quarterback in the nation was going to push his team harder than Tim Tebow would. Tough love. Smart work.
    Lesson for leaders. You don’t have to be a big softy to inspire or be optimistic. You can be hard as nails – just push the right buttons that create positive energy that leads to meaningful behaviors for your team.
  5. Creating Followership. I don’t know about you, but Tebow, Rolle, and Mays are people I would follow. They have their heads screwed on right. They are making gutsy choices under tempting conditions. I like that. Imagine the kind of followership they must inspire on their teams.
    Lesson for leaders. Do your people want to follow you? Here is the acid-test – if you weren’t their manager, would they still follow your lead? If you can’t say “you betcha,” we need to talk. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we need leadership today. Right now. There is so much negativity in the news these days it makes me sick. Inspire. Find the good that is out there. Focus. Drill down on what is truly important and keep an unwavering eye on success. Optimism. Be pragmatic about your situation, and gosh golly, seek to be a ray of sunshine through the gloom. Smart work. Enjoy what you do; savor it. We are fortunate in many ways – sometimes this is hard to see. Create Followership. Reach for your potential and be the kind of person (in and outside of work) that people want to be around. You probably already are that person. I like that. Now reach deeper, challenge yourself and your team. We need you right now. Take center stage.    

Doug Van Dyke is a leadership and communication consultant, executive coach, and business planner. His book, Leadership Simplified, as well as audios and video are available at the Productivity Store of www.leadershipsimplified.com. To learn more about consulting services, coaching, and training, or to have Doug speak at your next event, contact him today at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or at 941-776-1121. 

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