There have been many times in my life where there was good and bad leadership. Whether it was in a classroom or playing sports, leadership played a big role in my life.
I was able to watch the leaders throughout my life and learn from their good ideas and bad mistakes. According to Jim Collins, in his book GOOD TO GREAT, there are five different levels of leadership. The leadership is ranked from level 1, being the most common, yet least effective leader, to level 5 which is the most effective. It isn’t until level 5 leadership where a leader really stands out.
These are the rarest group of leaders. Level 5 leaders build lasting greatness. They tend to blame mistakes on themselves when something goes wrong, and value others when things go well. These leaders have no ego and put their company before their selves. I can relate the idea of five level leadership to the leaders I have grown up with in my life. They mostly consist of players and coaches on sports teams. I played football my whole life and throughout high school. I had witnessed the culture of our program change from when I joined the team as a freshman, to the last game of my senior year. Throughout the years I played, I was able to identify the type of leadership that went on.
On this team I was able to identify level 1 to level 4 leadership. The level 1 leaders were the players who sat on the bench, but helped make practice effective. Theses players used their little amount of skills to contribute to the team. The level 2 leaders consisted of the players who started on the team and played the most. These players used their capabilities to achieve goals for the team. They were the ones out on the field winning the games. The level 3 leaders where some of the players who labeled themselves as “captains”.
The captains led the stretching lines and spoke at team meetings, but some of them weren’t respected by other players. Captains who were respected and had players believe in them were the level 4 leaders. They were helping the team build a culture to become better. Their teammates wanted to play for them. Level 5 leadership was attempted but failed by the Athletic Director of the school.
Our head football coach became Athletic Director when I was a junior in high school and put us in a harder division. Our team was playing harder teams and each year we kept losing talent. This caused the team to lose more games and less students wanted to play. Players started to not show up at practice and because we were a small school, it didn’t look good with the program. I would consider our coach as a level 4 leader because he cared about the football program and wanted it to be a great one.
He made people believe that he can make the program strong, but his ego took over, and his self–interest of wanting the program to be more than what it was caused it to fail. If he was a level 5 leader he would have put the program back into the weaker division, but his ego got the best of him. He was unable to take the blame for the mistake and do what’s right for the team.
I believe that if our coach drops his ego and turns the program around, he can potentially become a level 5 leader. He is an alumni of the high school and grew up in the town. He cares about the team and its reputation because he has been coaching for over 15 years.
Level 5 leaders are usually found within the organization and that is where he comes from. This will be difficult to achieve though because there is less talent on the team and the amount of players are diminishing.
Throughout your life no matter how privileged you are, how much money you have, how high your GPA is, what kind of car you drive, or how much real estate you own there are always going to be tribulations.
The amount and circumstances of the tribulations that you face will always vary when compared to someone else. But, the way you should react to these tribulations should always be the same. Whenever you are faced with a hardship in life, you should follow the Stockdale Paradox. The Stockdale Paradox is from a book called Good to Great by Jim Collins.
The book is about how eleven good companies turned themselves into great companies as well as comparing them to other good companies that had similar circumstances but failed to become great. The book is talking about companies because the stock market business is easily measurable but in all reality, you can take the topics in this book and relate it to everyday life. In chapter four of the book there’s a topic called the Stockdale Paradox.
He was not the only one who was imprisoned, but he was one of the very few who survived. He stated that the only reason why he survived was his faith and his acceptance of the brutal facts. Stockdale also stated that the people who did not survive were the ones who were too optimistic. Being too optimistic can harm you because when you tell yourself something is going to happen by a specific time and it doesn’t happen then you set yourself up for failure.
To clearly define the Stockdale Paradox, it is maintaining unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.
The past few years I’ve had to use the Stockdale Paradox and didn’t even realize I was using it until I read this chapter. In high school I excelled in athletics. Don’t get me wrong, my grades were also of high quality but athletics was my thing. It’s funny how it worked out because the sport that I was best in, I had never competed in until freshman year of high school. That sport was track and field.
I made varsity outdoor season of freshman year and sophomore year my head track and field coach convinced the head basketball coach to persuade me to not play basketball anymore and run indoor track and field. Fast forward three years and it ended up being one of the best decision’s I’ve made in life. At one time I was a co-national record holder in the Octathlon as well as a three time All American. I got a scholarship to run Division I track and field at Delaware State University.
Although I was a scholarship athlete I was not happy. I made my decision to attend DSU mainly because they gave me the most money, but DSU did not have the adequate facilities nor coaches to make me the best athlete that I could be. I am a decathlete, which means that I have to train for ten different events. Out of those ten events I did not have a coach for six different events. I was promised by the head coach that a new coach was going to be hired, which a coach was but it was not for my events.
My freshman year of college although I placed in the conference for high jump, I sort of went with the flow and just let things happen. My sophomore year I accepted the brutal facts that I wasn’t going to get a coach so I had to do everything in my power to become better. I put in countless hours of extra practice alone after we finished regular practice, extra time in the weight room with the weight training coach, watched videos online, and even recorded myself and attempted to critique what I was doing wrong.
I started to make a list of colleges that I would like to transfer to. My final decision ended up being the school in my home state, Rutgers University. I began emailing the coach at Rutgers and we were in contact for about six months with me sending him results from my season. Towards the middle of May, the coach from Rutgers emailed me and told me that because of a university mandate I would not be able to be apart of the team the upcoming season.
That truth hurt and I was dismayed for a number of weeks, but then I began to have unwavering faith that although I could not be a member of the team my junior year I would become a member my senior and graduate years. I accepted the brutal facts of my reality and knew that I would have to train myself harder than ever before to be given a shot as a senior with only two years of eligibility left.
Currently I am receiving workouts from my high school coach and working out on my own until I am given a shot to make the team. Even though my story is unfinished I still practice the Stockdale Paradox by have unwavering faith that I will not only be apart of the team here at Rutgers but I will also make contributions to the team. I have accepted the brutal facts that it won’t be easy and I need to train myself to compete against the best athletes in the country but it wont be something that I’ve never done before.
Reading both Tribes by Seth Godin and Good to Great by Jim Collins has given me a much more positive outlook on my future. Both books were very powerful and really spoke to me in an influential way.
Godin teaches how to become a leader, and to not be afraid of leading. Collins teaches how to use that leadership in your career and how to not only be good, but also be great. I have been able to relate both of these books to my internship and I find myself referencing the books often. Throughout this paper I will discuss some of my favorite parts of each book and mention ways that I have related the books to my life.
Throughout the book Godin encourages readers to find their Tribe, step up, and lead. I found this to be helpful because a lot of people our age struggle with finding that confidence to actually step up and lead. Seth Godin gives examples and encouragement to his readers by explaining how anyone can step up and lead, and ever since reading this book I feel that I have had a little extra confidence and motivation to be a leader.
One of my favorite parts of the book was the section titled “The F Word.” This section reveals the real issue in turning one’s ideas into reality, fear. Many people have good ideas, even great ideas, but may not have the will or confidence to take their idea to the next level.
Godin states, “In a battle between two ideas, the best one doesn’t necessarily win. No, the idea that wins is the one with the most fearless heretic behind it.”
This quote spoke to me deeply because one of my biggest problems is taking action. I have always let the fear of failure take over my will to lead but ever since reading Tribes, I have a different outlook on leading. Everyone fails, everyone hits speed bumps and everyone needs to learn from their mistakes. If you let fear get in the way of this process, it will be very difficult to lead and become successful. After reading Tribes, I wake up a little more confident, and a little more fearless in leading.
As Collins states, it is so difficult to transition from good to great. But with the right operational practices and behaviors, it is possible to become a great company. Collins, like Godin, proves that anyone can become successful and lead. Everyone comes from a different place and background, but we can all find the answers inside and become a truly great leader.
My favorite part of Good to Great is Level 5 Leadership. Collins reveals interviews with some of the “good” and “great” companies that determine the differences between the leaders. He finds that the executives that show Level 5 Leadership display “an unusual mix of intense determination and profound humility.”
These leaders invested a larger portion of their life to their company, worrying about the gain of the company, rather than the personal gain of the individual. These leaders often gave the credit to their teammates, rather than themselves and rarely spoke about themselves. According to Collins, this is what it takes to be a Level 5 Leader, and I couldn’t agree with him more.
In my opinion, it shows a serious amount of strength to become a truly humble person. If one is able to remain humble, while also putting forth an extreme amount of hard work and motivation, you have learned how to become a great leader. These attributes of being a leader apply very well to someone who is leading a company. For me, I can only do so much leading. When it comes to my internship, I try to lead as much as possible.
But I don’t only try to lead, I always refer to Jim Collins level 5 leadership attributes and try to emulate that as best as I can.
As I stated earlier, both Seth Godin’s Tribes and Jim Collins Good to Great spoke to me deeply and I am glad I had the opportunity to read them. I try to take their advice, be less scared, take risks, and remain humble as best I can. There are many lessons to learn as one is growing as a professional and Godin and Collins both tackle many of these lessons. I believe that reading these books has given me a more positive outlook on my life and future and I will continue to reference these books as I grow as a professional.
The key word to focus on in this statement alone is ‘grit.’ We will not be able to win on talent alone. He did not say we are never going to win a game.
If this were the case we may as well all toss in the towel and never look back. The conversation was started with the obvious intention to figure out what we need to do to take games from teams who physically outmatch us, because it is possible.
The trick is to accept that it is not possible to win if we continue on the same path, while keeping faith that if we commit to making change, we can and will win.
B1G ten volleyball teams are built to be larger than life girls who are great jumpers, with powerful swings, and heavy serves. Winning teams in the B1G ten get the top physical recruits in the nation. We don’t happen to be that team. We’re not going to magically jump touch a foot higher than we do now to match the teams we are playing against.
None of us are going to grow five inches either. These are all things we know to be true. But we went neck and neck with a lot of these teams, falling short time and time again by tiny margins. So what tips the scale in our favor? Every uphill battle to ever exist has been won at the fighting fists of people who not only possess but understand and live their lives through one principle; grit.
For the uphill battle winners, the saying, “Success comes to those who wait.” is a load of crap. They live their lives knowing that the hill is conquered by those who outwork yesterday’s best today. They continue to strive for this day after day. Yet through this grueling and time consuming process they still possess a level of passion to warrant patience while climbing. Patience is essential for the climb; waiting is not. The reality of the situation is we can no longer wait and stare up in awe from the bottom of the hill at teams who have reached the top. We need a direction to go, preferably up.
In the book Good to Great, by Jim Collins, to become a great team, the right people have to be “on the bus.” I believe the right people are. We’ve done the grueling practices, and long days in the gym, exhausting traveling weekends, staying up until the early hours of the morning in the hotel lobby finishing schoolwork.
However, so have the teams we compete against. Beyond this I am confident the right people are on our bus because above all else, those of us who remain have chosen to stay on board. Our past competition season was the ultimate test. The players struggled, the coaches struggled, some people left the bus, and others were kicked off.
For that reason alone the remaining members of this team possess the grit and faith that we need to win. The piece of the puzzle we were missing is now staring us in the face. We will not win on talent alone. Confronted with this truth, we keep the faith that we will win, go back to the drawing board, and figure out how to begin the climb. The only direction left to go is up.