Leadership: Pressure vs. Support

Being Superbowl Sunday, I’m re-posting one of my most popular blogs.  It’s about the nature of true leadership, as opposed to “loud” leadership.   There’s a lesson here for every leader, every manager, every coach, and every parent.

Leadership: Pressure vs. Support



On August 18, 2012 the Little League World Series U.S. Championship game was played between teams from Goodlettsville, Tennessee and Petaluma, California.  It was the bottom of the ninth inning, and Goodlettsville led by four runs.  There were two outs and two men on base for Petaluma as their better approached the plate.  You could tell this kid was nervous and felt the weight of his team’s fate on his shoulders.
What happened next was, in my opinion, inspired leadership and coaching.  The Petaluma coach had been wired with a microphone and what he said to that young man was broadcast on television as it happened for all to hear.  He told his player, “You can’t lose this game and you can’t win it.  We’re down four runs and that’s because of everything that happened before now, so you can’t lose the game.  We’ve got two men on base and even if you hit a home run we’re still one run short, so you can’t win it for us.  You just need to do what you’re good at and have fun.”  The coach patted the batter on the back and you could just see the pressure on that kid dissolve.
He hit a home run.
My daughter’s soccer coach, Lionel Marmalejo, always tells the team, “I don’t mind if you mess up.  We can fix that.  But I really mind if you don’t try.”  Her team wins almost every game and they have a blast.  They try hard and they know that they will be coached, not yelled at, if they make a mistake.
Before a week of extremely important tests my daughter’s teacher, Jared Brett, told the class, “You guys have worked hard and you’re ready for these tests.  Don’t freak out over it.  You’ll do fine.  Just relax.”  (There were other teachers who stressed their students to shreds.)
His class did a great job with the tests.
Great leaders prepare people to succeed, they don’t pressure them to succeed.
There’s a difference.
Life will provide all the pressure that any of us need.  A weak, ineffective leader adds more pressure, creates stress needlessly, and gets in the way of success.
A strong leader supports the team so that they will excel under pressure.  That means being a teacher, being tough when you need to be, yet always having the team know that you’re on their side and are their biggest supporter.
Whether in sports, business, or any other endeavor, a weak leader has players who doubt themselves and are afraid.
A strong leader has players who are prepared and confident.
Guess who wins.

Showing 1 comments

  1. Joel Boggess Reply

    Great distinction. Pressure puts everyone on high alert and seldom brings out the best in anyone. Effective leaders, like the ones in your story, understand and harness this.

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