14 Lessons Learned to Make You a Better Leader

“Okay, turn your head on more of a slant … now, make a fist. Slowly ease it up underneath your chin. This is looking really good.”

Note: This is not a leadership blog, per se. However (comma) we often write for people who must consider aspects of leadership – and followership – in much of what they do: organizational spokespeople, government public affairs specialists, regional incident management team public information officers, emergency managers, corporate communications professionals, public relations practitioners, university mass communication students, etc., etc., etc. Just sayin’. Here’s the subject list:

  1. “Take advantage of technology.”
  2. Empower everyone on your staff to help eliminate weak links in the chain: if everyone feels like they can contribute – equally, and without retribution – everyone wins.
  3. Cultivate and continuously encourage the use of processes that enable you and your team to get better at what you do, even (and especially) at your organization’s lowest points.
  4. “Get the most out of your day.”
  5. Successful communication can often be more about listening than speaking.
  6. When it comes to the “squishy science” aspects of making decisions, different points of view are essential.
  7. Stay connected enough to your people to know when you need to spend “quality time” with them, and when you don’t.
  8. Successful people “don’t waste any reps.”
  9. If you’re smart enough to know that you have to train for The Big One – even if you’ve already overcome A Big One – do it like a champion: willing to take advice during the process, serious about the endeavor and having fun all at the same time.
  10. When you reach the top of that ladder, reach a hand down and help someone else up.
  11. Plan for the worst-case scenario.
  12. Check your ego at the door.
  13. Never stop learning, and pay special attention to critique’s of your own performance.
  14. Strive to “get better” and “delete old ideas that may no longer be effective.”

I didn’t dream up this particular list, but if you’re even a casual reader of this blog, you’ll recognize that we’ve hit on most of these points repeatedly throughout the years.

I’ve put some things up there in direct quotes and paraphrased others. This is a “book report” kind of post, about Tom Crean’s* “School of Jock” piece (as it’s called in the print version of SI). He got fired from a big leadership position and took a year to visit with successful leaders to find out what “right” or “correct” or “best” looked like. Never stop learning, right?! I saved the context for last because I didn’t want to lose anyone with a I-can’t-learn-anything-from-people-in-the-sports-world-because-I-don’t-like-sports mentality.** Athletes and coaches in Crean’s piece are the characters, but what it is they do and how they do it is the real story.

Read Crean’s piece here if you’re enticed by everything above.

*If you think it’s easy for a lifelong fan of The Ohio State University Football to endorse a piece of writing from the brother-in-law of the “football” “coach” from That Team Up North, you’ve got another think coming. So, there’s that.

**”Don’t fret, Precious – I’m here.”

4 thoughts on “14 Lessons Learned to Make You a Better Leader

  1. Yeah, but he is also the brother-in-law of the coach of the NFL team, that from 2007-20012 was the most successful in the league that didn’t deflate footballs and spy on the other team’s practices. So there’s that, too. 🙂


    • I feel your pain. #IndyColts. But at least the NFL lets you continue to claim Jim Brown’s old records. They would have you think Johnny Unitas played in Indianapolis! That said, I’ve always liked Tom Crean as a coach, even before Harbaugh came to the Ravens.


    • Definitely! Such a shared set of tragic events for the cities of Cleveland and Baltimore, when it comes to their football teams’ fans! That 30for30 about the *Baltimore* Colts Marching Band is one of my faves. I still cringe a little when announcers, statisticians, etc., put the “starting point” of the Browns at ’99 (come on.). I knew very little about Coach Crean before reading his piece — not an avid college hoops fan. Good piece, though — and I dig what he decided to do after getting canned: get better from the best!


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