Over the past few years I’ve had the honor of being around some great leaders. A few years ago, after graduating from Norfolk State I went into my high school’s alumni open gym and approached coach Sam Brand about documenting the team every day during the upcoming season. What I learned from watching coach Sam and assistant coach Anthony Fitzgerald was not only their knowledge and expertise about the sport of basketball, but also their ability to be diplomatic and resourceful. Another skill that I picked up on was their different approaches with regards to getting the best out of each player, and that comes from having a certain level of emotional empathy when you’re around somebody. Some people respond to being yelled at in front of the team, some people respond better to being pulled to the side away from everybody. I got to experience it more with coach Larry Tucker who I learned a lot from in a year and a half through helping out the junior varsity The trick is to understand what works for each person you’re responsible for.
Another thing I’ve been learning about leadership is that you can’t just hang back with a cold stare. The strong silent type just ain’t cutting it these days. You gotta be personable. You gotta be reliable and trustworthy. You gotta be an effective communicator. Leadership requires collaboration. Leadership requires being able to demonstrate concepts and ideas. Leadership requires being able to listen to other people’s suggestions. Leadership requires being able to advocate for yourself and others. Leadership requires being present and engaged. There’s plenty of times where coach Fitz, Coach Sam and Coach L suited up and played against the guys in in practice, did yoga with the team, the whole nine yards. I’ve gotten to witness the same qualities in manager Alex Cora, and it makes a huge difference.
There’s a reason why you win three straight state championships. There’s a reason why you win a World Series championship in your first season as a manager. I say all that to say that this year I have to boss up my leadership skills. Not sure what level I’m at but I have a bit more responsibility this season. There are going to be times where people are counting on me. and like coach L always says
“There comes a point where it’s not about trying. It’s about results… I like results.”