Recently labeled “America’s Most Entrepreneurial Football Coach” by Entrepreneur magazine, Head Coach Blake Anderson is making a name for himself and his program down at Arkansas State University. Most of the recognition he is earning flows from his willingness to break convention and try almost anything that will either give his team a gambler’s chance at points, increase the interest of his university’s fanbase, or reward his players through empowerment and the opportunity to simply have fun. Usually, it’s all three, as with his Feinting Goat fake punt that failed (it was a bad pass), but went fabulously viral.
You can coach them as hard as you want if they know that you care.
That’s not football coaching advice; it’s leadership wisdom.
Great leaders — the “Level 5 Leaders” of Jim Collins’ Good to Great — understand that their plans are worthless without the People to execute them. They also understand that the harder the task at hand, the less likely disengaged people following mere directions will be sufficient to the task. You can get by with the hollow leadership of a smart strategy that is devoid of a heart for the people who will be carrying it out when the road you are traveling is downhill. Hollow boxes with free-spinning wheels can make for quite a dramatic race when the track is downhill:
However, when it is a steep climb that sits between your organization and your goal, more than a plan and a steering wheel is needed:
The engine in your organization is your people, and the horsepower they produce is a function of how much they care about carrying you up that mountain. Lead from the heart: Show them how much you care about them — tune their engine and supercharge their horsepower — and see how far they’ll take you.