Tuesday, July 17

Leadership Thoughts (and a Video) From Hoosiers, Part II

Last week I shared a leadership principle illustrated in the film, Hoosiers. That principle is the importance of commitment to the foundational truths and values of the organization you are leading and reinforcing them in a consistent and systematic way. As you do this, you build into your organization and your people the values and competencies that allow your purpose and vision to be fulfilled. But what you also do is broaden the base of those who believe in and are committed to that purpose, thus expanding the leaders and resources available to you.

I highlighted the coach of Hickory High School (played by Gene Hackman) and his commitment to the fundamental values he believed in even when they didn't produce immediate results or ingratiate him to the community. At a crisis point, when he was about to lose his job, the local basketball hero - Jimmy Chitwood - gave him his endorsement and joined the team. This final piece (as Jim Collins would say, "getting the right person on the bus") helped to turn the season. The right players are on the floor doing the fundamental things that achieved their purpose. The team began to win and they eventually found themselves in the state championship game - the smallest school to ever get there. The decisive moment of the game came with nineteen seconds left and the score tied. Hickory stole the ball and called a timeout to set up the game winning shot. The coach called a play that would use Jimmy as a decoy, but it is obvious from the body language of the players that they did not think his plan is the best one. When he asked what was wrong, Jimmy simply said, "I'll make the shot."

This is my favorite part of the movie. At this point, the coach did something he had not done throughout the film. He listened to his team and he scrapped his plan for theirs. And they won.

Here's the principle: as a leader, you have to be willing to listen to those on your "team". The players had proven themselves. They had bought into the system. They had built a foundation. They were solid on the fundamentals. They believed in the vision and purpose. And now the coach listened to them to get to the next level.

We need to do the same thing. When we have people around us who share our vision, believe in our purpose, and live out our foundational values we need to give them a voice in the direction of the organization. They often have fresh ideas and different perspectives that can sharpen our strategy and make the organization more effective. This does not mean we abdicate leadership. We just allow more people to share in that leadership and take ownership of the organization and its success. In our ministry to college students, those who begin to catch our vision and live out our foundational values have a great deal of input in the decisions we make as a group.

The principle applies to any area of leadership. A wise leader will listen to those who share the vision, believe in the purpose, and live out the foundational principles of the organization - whether it be a church, a business, a club, or a group of officials at a track meet.

I want to be involved in ventures that are too important to be left up to just my wisdom and experience. But I also want to make sure that those I listen to are ones who share the vision, believe in the purpose, and live out the foundational values of the organization.

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