Leadership is a Choice

Leadership is truly a choice. All great coaches and leaders know this. The challenge is how to we get our players to understand this. The last article I shared was on the importance of team book talks or leadership talks, and how they both can contribute to a winning culture. Coaches are constantly looking for an edge on the court, but transformational coaches are also looking for cutting edge resources to reach their athletes off the court as well. In the Michigan Elite 25 program, reserved for the top players in the state, Tim McCormick shares with the athletes just what it takes to brand themselves as a recruitable athlete ready to compete at the next level. As the E25 educational/leadership director, I share many of Tim’s ideas in my recent book, An Elite Journey: A Young Man’s Leadership Story.

As a contributing writer to HoopCoach.org, I began sharing the fictional journey of CJ Harding, the main character in my book. As my earlier post stated, CJ’s life changed dramatically when he stumbled upon his late father’s leadership manual. The manual focused on the principles of success and the common denominators of elite performers. Using the acronym ELITE, his father outlined what it takes to succeed as a leader. I last posted on the first letter “E”, which stands for education. The game changer for CJ was actually writing his goals down on a notecard and placing it at his bedside table. This gave him a game plan for success where he could focus on his goals, instead of his circumstances.

As you may have guessed from reading my first post, the letter “L” in ELITE stands for leadership. As CJ continues to read his dad’s manual he learns more and more about leadership and how he can apply it to his life. Understanding leadership is a choice, he starts to focus on the things he can control. He reads that 55% of how we communicate is with our body language. CJ begins to project a more confident image, starting with his body language, handshake, and risk-taking. His demeanor in school changes, and his teachers, coaches, and peers start to view him in a different way. CJ begins to realize that leadership begins with leading yourself to your dreams and goals. His late father’s message resonates with CJ, as he becomes even more dedicated to his future.

Reading about the importance of strong relationships, CJ intentionally begins to form strong bonds with his coach, his teachers, his teammates, and even his little sister, who looks up to him fondly. CJ begins to transform his image from a fixed-minded athlete to a rising tide basketball recruit with a bright future.

CJ is also reminded about his dad’s favorite quote from West Point, “Always choose the hard right over the easy wrong.” This quote helps CJ understand that there will be struggles but leaders persevere. CJ’s favorite quote from his dad’s book is a cadet maxim, “Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.”

Though CJ is becoming a leader, he is struggling forming strong relationships with the older classmen. CJ is a sophomore and the most talented member of the team, yet the senior dominated team is having difficulty accepting CJ as an equal.

The leadership chapter in the book has led to great discussion. As all coaches know positive team chemistry and fostering leadership are so important in reaching a team’s full potential. The questions at the end of this chapter really make the readers/athletes think about their role on their team, what is best for their team, and the leadership choices they are making. This chapter also deals with how coaches handle conflict resolution and the effects of their actions or inaction.

I was very pleased with the responses I received from my last post. Please reach out to me with any questions or interest in my book. Can’t wait to reveal the next letter in the acronym ELITE. email: [email protected], twitter@coachmassucci or visit my website at michaelmassucci.com.

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