When Did Leadership Start To Mean Something?

When did leadership start to mean something to you?

Was it the influence of a parent or other adult?

Your experiences with a coach or other sporting leader?

Or some other opportunity you were exposed to at another point in your life.

In many ways, when this occurred is not overly important. The fact that it did is what mattered. In reality it is more likely an accumulated effect of many examples of leadership experienced throughout your life, both good and gratifying and poor examples that were unsatisfying. View my brief video below to delve further into leadership and its opportunity for you and others.

What do you think? Can you remember when leadership started to matter to you  and why?


Filed under Leadership, Learning

9 responses to “When Did Leadership Start To Mean Something?

  1. Thought provoking post – in my case – leading a soccer team and having to get everyone there on time, motivated and speaking to each other……


    • Thanks for your comments, Geoff. It is endlessly fascinating to me how important messages given and received as children are. On a side-note, being a massive advocate of sport in general and team sport in particular, I relate strongly to your points.


  2. It is interesting how many people have commented on a sporting coach being such an influence at a young age. The comparisons are many between a sports coach and business coach, however levels of acceptance are significantly different. This has and is changing though, with too many successful examples of senior leaders gaining such critical value from their coach…and willingly discussing it in public.

    On the Linked2Leadership LinkedIn group Michael Keown left a great story containing many interesting points including knowing your role and short versus long-term lessons and strategy, which I will replicate here for interests sake:

    The first time I can remember leadership meaning something to me was when I realized that I could NOT do something by myself. I was about 9 and playing soccer. I was the midfielder and one of the best players on the team (at least in my oh-so-humble 9-year old mind). We normally won our games by several goals, so the coach let us play pretty loose. However, one team we played was very disciplined and early in the game we were losing by three goals. Being a self-appointed leader on the team, I began to chase the ball all the way across the field and play every position. I scored a goal one minute and blocked one on the other end of the field the next minute. I got us back into the game but completely exhausted myself in the process. At halftime, the coach told me to play my role and let everyone else do theirs. We were still down by a goal, so I BLEW up at him and told him that if everyone else could do their job, I wouldn’t have to do it for them. He remained calm and told me that if we win or lose, we would do so as a team. His faith in our team (not to mention a pretty stern conversation with my mom) brought my ego down a few pegs and I stuck to my role the rest of the game. We played better in the second half but still lost by two goals. From that point on, however, we were much more focused in our practices and played considerably better the rest of the season. My coach’s ability to understand that the entire season was longer than one game and that one player’s ability did not make a team helped my team (and me in particular) to become much more than we were before that particular game.


  3. Pingback: When Did Leadership Start To Mean Something? | People Discovery

  4. The additional comments to my blog being received through various groups on LinkedIn are worth duplicating here for others to read:

    For me, it was my coaching senior executives who were charged with being leaders of large numbers of others charged with acting as leaders and discovering that they didn’t know how to be a leader. They had naturately become command and control managers. As a result I invented” DYI-upward ”
    By George Graen

    For me leadership didn’t start at home or at school. Yes I had (and still have!) great parents, and one or two great teachers. But I didn’t see them as leaders – they were people we were expected to listen and attend to – in the nicest possible sense. For me, leadership began at work. And, unfortunately for me, the man that show me the greatest leadership in my career is now dead. Impossible to describe the loss.
    By Elaine Heyworth

    For me, it was when I observed the positive change I was making in the lives, behaviors and performance of others during my tour onboard a ship in the rivers of South Vietnam. I confronted my Radio Shack Chief about the meaningless inspections and compartment deep-clean every day so that the Executive Officer could do his daily walk-throughs. My leadership got the procedure changed. But the real, intrinsic meaning came when I started noticing my mentoring and leading made a difference int he lives of others; which I found later was my Servant Leadership practices. When I started leading people specifically with focus on them, not the organizational purpose and mission, is when I realized my niche in leadership.
    By David McCuistion

    Hi Steve,
    Yet again, I enjoyed watching your video about Leadership – thought provoking as always. The most recent example of good leadership that I can recall was the job of Anna Bligh during the floods of 2011. Party politics aside, I believe that she demonstrated true leadership in a crisis – clear information, regular updates, she appeared credible and confident, she also showed emotion but in the correct context, she gave hope / vision and encouraged people to keep moving forward. I know that a lot of other people thought the same, even though they may not have supported her party ideals.
    The worst example of leadership I will always remember was when I worked with a 1st class bully who hated her job. She had no clue about leadership – feedback was only given if you asked for it, a good or bad day in the team depended on her mood, problems were not addressed or we were all yelled at etc etc etc. Needless to say, my health worsened and my energy each day went into survival. Thank goodness those days are over.
    Thanks for the blogs – they are great food for thought!
    By CM


  5. And from Jim Bouchard owner of the Black Belt Mindset Mastermind Group on LinkedIn:

    What a fabulous post!

    It is important to know when leadership started to mean something- that’s the indication that a particular leadership style was effective in your life.

    Despite the plethora of academic leadership study and formal training, ultimately great leadership is only learned by example. There are two reasons for this:

    1) Leadership skills are disciplines- intentional and purposeful habits. The strongest habits are those formed with powerful emotional anchors, particularly in the reward phase.

    A positive personal experience with a leader forms a strong anchor and the acknowledgement or results you get by working with that leader or his philosophy creates a strong impression. That’s the impression you’ll carry forward.

    2) Leadership by example is the only way to prove results. Theory does not guarantee results.

    When a leader demonstrates effectiveness in the real world, that’s an example you can carry forward.

    Thanks for posting this and I sincerely hope others will join in and share their experiences!


  6. I loved that story of your early soccer career Steve. As a keen player all my life I can really relate to it. When I reflect on my time as a player, I think I realised that I must be a leader (of sorts) as every team I played with always ended up with me being given the role of captain. I didn’t seek this position out, and sometimes I cringed when the coach announced it in the dressing room. I was a sort of reluctant leader I guess. I wasn’t the most talented or skilful player, but I did pride myself on my work-rate and determination. I didn’t do big speeches to the team before the game, but I did do my share of talking (and shouting) while on the pitch. I think what the coaches probably saw (I am guessing at this) was someone who was solid, reliable, and a good example (or role-model) for others to follow. At least, that’s my version of history. In any case, I believe that it was after being selected as captain for my third or fourth team that I embraced the fact that “I must be a leader, as other people think I am”.


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