For months now, I've contemplated writing about leadership, but I've continuously opted to write about business acumen. With a finance degree, I feel qualified to write about business finance. Since I do not hold a position of leadership, I have not felt qualified to write about leadership. Then it struck me: I’m falling into the manager-equals-leader mindset. I actually do hold a leadership position. I coach youth basketball—10-12 year old boys and girls to be precise.
My father coaches with me, and we often discuss who our best player is. He picks the “obvious” answer: the travel-ball playing kid, #53. The athlete who also plays flag football, who never tires. He can defend and drive and make almost any shot from the right side of the court (he’s 11, the left hand will come later!). I tell my dad he wouldn’t be my first pick. My pick is #30 – he possesses these 5 leadership behaviors Inc. defines as desirable in high potential employees:
- Superhero-Like Listening Skills. Number 30 listens to us, his coaches. He listens to the refs. He actively listens to his teammates. When it comes to leadership, listening is absolutely critical to creating a work environment in which employees feel appreciated, heard and engaged.
- Trust and Believe in People. He makes other players (including my little sister) better. If you ask her who she likes to play with, she’ll pick him. He tells other kids who they should be guarding and what play we’re running. Great leaders trust their followers foremost, and they give that trust as if it were a gift.
- Good Coach. Number 30 is quick to offer suggestions to teammates on how to improve. He gives me observations in real-time. He’s our eyes on the court. In the world of business, people, especially millennials, gravitate towards leaders who will coach them to success.
- See and Promote the Big Picture. He remembers not only our game plans, but what we’re trying to accomplish for the whole season. In business, being a leader that aligns decisions to the strategy of the organization are the leaders that make a difference.
- Resilience. Lastly, #30 will come to every game ready to play, even if we lost to the team before or even if our opponent is on a winning streak. This is a trait others see and are inspired by. Great leaders may fall down, but they always get back up, smarter than ever before.
Leaders are so-named because of these behaviors. They’re not only valuable in rec basketball – they’re valuable in the business world too. Do your leaders have these behaviors? If not, don’t worry! Listening, coaching and big picture thinking can all be taught. Let’s get started.