Communicating a Leader’s Vision

Bill O'Brien and a crew of people using TV & Interview Skills

Communicating your vision of success is one of the most important things you can do as a leader.

I saw Bill O’Brien, the new head coach at Penn State speak to a group of 2,000 high school football players over the weekend at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. He had a fairly typical football message that focused on four things they look for in a recruit (beyond ability) at Penn State:

  1. How they interact and treat their family members
  2. How hard they work at school
  3. What type of a teammate are they
  4. What they do for their community

Isn’t that really what every organization looks for? Good people who treat others well, work hard, keep the organization’s interests ahead of their own, and give back to the community.

Guess what? That’s why businesses managers and leaders use sports analogies and coaches rarely use business analogies. You never hear a coach talk to his team about profit margins and marketing initiatives. What was the last pep talk you heard about that focused on market share?

Believe me, it’s not because sports and business don’t play by the same rules. They do. Pro sports are businesses. So are college sports.

No sports team in the world has 100-percent buy-in on the four areas that O’Brien, and most coaches, outline as important to the team. No business does either. Neither ever will. The good ones, the best ones, will continue to strive to get the percentage of people who buy into the program as high as possible.

The thing O’Brien did that most business leaders can learn from is he talked about what he’s looking for. He outlined it. He enumerated it: one, two three, four.

What are you looking for as a business leader? What does success look like from your vantage point of team building? Share that view with your organization as often as you can. Share it with your community. Share it with your industry. The more people know what you’re looking for, the more they will know what success looks like, and the more they can help you find success.

By the way, I did introduce myself to O’Brien after his talk. When I told him my name, Gerry Sandusky, Gerry with a G, no relation to the former Penn St. assistant coach, O’Brien’s jaw dropped. We agreed that we both face unique challenges because of a name that sounds exactly like mine.

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