Actions Speak Louder than Words

Leadership Worthington (LW) is a not-for-profit organization in Worthington, Ohio that serves its community by developing its future leaders through leadership enhancement and focusing on and understanding the key issues facing their community. LW is facilitated by community professionals and designed for high school students in grades 10-12.
I had the opportunity and esteemed pleasure to deliver the keynote to the graduating class this past November at the request of the program’s coordinator. My tie to the Worthington community dates back to 2005 when I first moved to the Columbus area. I was rehabbing injuries following my last stint with the Giants, and felt I could bring an added something to the Columbus area by means of service. I ultimately became active in the Worthington School System by first substitute teaching and later taking a full time position as a teacher assistant in an elementary behavior classroom. I must have made a decent impression on a few key people in the district because they looked me up four years later and asked me to be a part of thier leadership program. (Thanks again Val!)

When addressing young people about any topic, it brings with it a responsibility to be relavent as well as insightful to the issues that face them; or you might as well count on them to tune you out. I chose the topics for the keynote specifically because of the relevance I found between my friends whom I mentioned, and my Business Ethics professor, John Annarino, Esq.

In my speech I mentioned my friends Mike and Zack and shared what I learned from them, but not mentioned in the keynote is Professor Annarino. It was in his class that I learned the most about being a leader and what it takes to be my best. It was from John that I learnd to find a balance between my heart and my mind when making decisions. He taught me to be contemplative and aware of who I am and what my utility is as a man, a leader, and legacy. — We learn many valuable lessons in books, but often times the most important lessons we learn, are learned through experience.

We know that every entity has some form of leadership and there are many adjectives we use to describe those leaders. Coincidentally, we can also compare the body of work which that entity produces to reflect to some extent the leadership that guides. Presidents of countries, CEO’s of corporations, principals of elementary schools, and coaches of sports teams all have a unifying quality that conjoin them. – They lead people by defining a mission and entrusting in their own personal vision for the greater good of their entity and its stakeholders.

Leaders who preserve a humble desire to learn from others are demonstrating more than learning and leadership qualities; they are setting the greatest example possible for their pupils. A leader who leads by example will always have the respect and approbation of their team. Too often leaders find themselves in a position to influence others and forget that they too are students and have something to learn. Malcom Gladwell said, “We learn by example and direct experience because there are real limits to the adequacy of verbal instruction.” This is very true in sports as well as business. As a back-up to Jeremy Shockey in New York, I had plenty of opportunity to learn by example. On film, on the field, in the weight room; It was like having another coach. In many ways, we all learned from each other. There are so many nuances to the game of football, especially in the trenches. The smallest tip to blocking a defensive end sometimes is the difference between scoring a touch-down or settling for a field goal attempt. For example, If I am watching Jeremy block a quick defensive end and see exactly how he takes his first step off the ball, I do not need to hear a word from a coach… I can see how to do it and will mirror his actions when I am in the same situation.

The same mirroring techniques can be used by managers in business, however they have to see the value of teaching their staff in a “do as I do, not do as I say” style. It’s easier for some managers to tell others what to do because they do not have the ability themselves to actually do the task. However, to optimally build your brand and your business; its imperative to have leaders on your team who care to show others how it’s done, as well as be able to explain to them why.

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