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Your Trademark as a Leader: Using Connection to Make a Lasting Impression

Updated: Feb 23, 2023

I worked for an Athletic Director who was always eager to prioritize people first. He was never too busy to meet with prospective student-athletes, send them emails, and chat with their parents. Building genuine relationships was one of his greatest strengths; it's not something you see every day. This post is dedicated to Marcus Manning, Executive Director of the Durham Sports Commission.


A leader has the power to influence, direct, and inspire others. They use their charisma, experience, knowledge, and personal qualities to guide others toward a common goal or purpose. A leader will not only provide direction but also serve as an example for those they lead by showing them what it means to be successful in achieving their goals. Leadership requires communication skills and emotional intelligence to converse with different types of people from different backgrounds effectively. It takes time for leaders to build trust among those who follow them and develop relationships based on mutual respect and understanding. Ultimately, great leaders empower everyone around them to become better versions of themselves by quietly guiding the way.


HOW YOU MAKE OTHERS FEEL IS YOUR TRADEMARK AS A LEADER. The ability to inspire, motivate and empower people is a crucial trait of successful leaders. Leaders are judged by how they make others feel. They should make their followers feel respected, valued, and included in decisions that affect them. Leaders should also be empathic -- understanding the feelings of those around them and being able to show compassion when needed. Finally, great leaders are fearless in taking risks or challenging the status quo to bring about positive change within an organization or community. These qualities rely on a leader's communication skills more than anything else; good leaders have excellent interpersonal skills and can effectively engage with all types of personalities while conveying their vision clearly and concisely.


Two great and compassionate sports leaders who have been incredibly influential are Tony Dungy and Phil Jackson. Tony Dungy was the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl, breaking down barriers. His teams were known for overcoming adversity while displaying strong character and sportsmanship on the field.


Phil Jackson is one of the most successful coaches in NBA history, leading his teams to 11 championships, including two three-peats with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, respectively. He is renowned for having an incredible knack for bringing out maximum effort from players by creating a sense of unity within his team through open dialogue between himself and his players, along with motivating them through positive reinforcement rather than negative criticism or intimidation tactics. These men are excellent examples of powerful but compassionate leadership that brought people together on and off the court due to their unwavering commitment to excellence and respect for those around them.


Both Tony Dungy and Phil Jackson were spiritual men in unique ways. Something both men share in common is their "aura." Tony Dungy was a profoundly religious man who shared his faith with those around him, believing it was the source of his success. His teams were known for their ability to keep their focus despite difficult circumstances while displaying strong character and sportsmanship on the field—all of which can be traced back to his commitment to living by Christian principles both on and off the field. His book "The Mentor Leader" is one of my favorite books.


Phil Jackson is renowned for incorporating Zen Buddhism into practices and game-day rituals, such as meditating before games or having players perform breathing exercises during timeouts. He believed this type of mindfulness helped create a sense of unity within his team through open dialogue between himself and his players, along with motivating them through positive reinforcement rather than negative criticism or intimidation tactics. This emphasis on spirituality brought everyone together as they grew closer through sharing similar values and beliefs, leading to more incredible camaraderie, which contributed immensely towards achieving high levels of success throughout Phil's career as a coach.


The key lessons that leaders should take away from these examples are:


1. Inspire, motivate, and empower the people you lead.

2. Show respect, value, and include others in decisions that affect them.

3. Demonstrate empathy to those around you and be compassionate when needed.

4. Take risks or challenge the status quo to bring positive change to an organization or

community.

5. Develop solid interpersonal communication skills to effectively engage with all types of

personalities while conveying your vision clearly and concisely


As coaches and Athletic Directors, we must remember that our actions and behavior serve as a model for our teams. Taking the time to recognize how our interactions can impact those around us is essential to foster an environment of trust, respect, and teamwork. Additionally, being mindful of our words and reactions in any given situation can help set a positive tone for everyone involved. It is important to recognize that all interactions impact those around you, and as a leader, it is essential to strive towards building positive relationships. We must be mindful of our words and actions, taking the time to understand different perspectives, listen attentively, and provide constructive feedback whenever possible to foster an environment where everyone feels respected and comfortable expressing their ideas. Always recognizing the power of your interactions will enable you to lead with compassion and become an influential leader who brings people together. Proverbs 15:1 states, "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." This is applicable because it speaks to the importance of responding with kindness and understanding for our interactions with others to be effective.


Especially as a leader in sports, it is vital to be aware of and conscious of your own feelings and those of the people around you. Taking the time to listen, seek understanding, and express empathy when interacting with others can help improve relationships and team dynamics. Philippians 2:3-4 states, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your interests but each of you to the interests of the others." This verse speaks to how important it is to put aside our own needs when interacting with others and instead focus on understanding their perspective and providing empathy.


It is important to be aware and conscious of emotions when interacting with others, as our perception can often become their reality. We must consider how our words, actions, and behavior affect those around us to communicate and create a positive atmosphere for everyone involved effectively. Additionally, being mindful of how you communicate can help create an environment where everyone feels heard and respected. Leaders should strive towards understanding different perspectives while being cognizant of the impact their interactions have on those they lead, providing constructive feedback whenever possible so individuals can learn from any mistakes they have made while also feeling supported as they continue on their journey towards excellence. These efforts will enable them to lead with compassion and become an influential leader who brings people together.


Accountability for one's words and actions is essential to build meaningful connections with others. It encourages trust, respect, and understanding between individuals who can lead to stronger relationships. We must take accountability for our words and actions to create positive connections with people. Leaders should be mindful of their interactions' impact on those around them and make sure to apologize whenever necessary while acknowledging others for a job well done. Taking ownership of your mistakes and giving praise when it's due will ensure that everyone feels respected and comfortable expressing themselves, ultimately leading to a healthier working environment where collaboration is encouraged. By learning how to balance emotions while always recognizing the power of your interactions, you will be able to lead with compassion and become an influential leader who brings people together.


Active listening is essential to ensure that all points of view are respected and heard. It involves providing feedback on ideas and respectfully challenging them without stifling the discussion or disregarding other people's feelings. It is important to embrace open dialogue, where ideas can be respectfully challenged without suppressing discussion or ignoring the feelings of others. Additionally, it is important to be receptive to new perspectives and ask questions to facilitate a productive conversation. Leaders should strive to create an environment that encourages collaboration and growth by being attentive to different perspectives while also considering how their words and actions affect those around them. Colossians 3:12-14 says, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." This verse speaks to the importance of demonstrating empathy towards those around us by being compassionate and understanding. It also emphasizes that leaders must be forgiving to foster collaboration within their team. Giving constructive feedback whenever possible offers individuals a chance to learn from any mistakes they have made while feeling supported as they continue on their journey toward excellence, ultimately leading to a healthier working atmosphere where everyone feels respected and comfortable expressing themselves. With these efforts in mind, it will enable you to lead with compassion and become an influential leader who brings people together.


Respectfully challenge ideas without stifling discussion or disregarding others' feelings. Open communication encourages the exchange of different perspectives and ideas, which can help to identify practical solutions when resolving conflicts. It is important to value open communication even if it may lead to disagreement or conflicting opinions. Additionally, it is important to create a safe environment in which all parties feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns. Leaders should strive towards understanding different perspectives, listening attentively, and providing constructive feedback whenever possible to foster an environment where everyone feels respected; ultimately leading to a healthier working atmosphere where collaboration is encouraged. By being mindful of the power of our interactions and considering how our words and actions affect those around us, we can work together to identify solutions that are beneficial for all parties involved - even when there are disagreements. With these efforts in mind, it will enable you to lead with compassion and become an influential leader who brings people together.


Additionally, discussion and collaboration between different perspectives can lead to improved outcomes. It is important to understand how effective communication can help generate innovative solutions to complex problems when playing "devil's advocate." Leaders should strive to create an environment that encourages collaboration and growth while also paying attention to different perspectives to develop creative solutions. By taking into account the power of their interactions, leaders should provide constructive feedback whenever possible; ultimately leading to a healthier working atmosphere where everyone feels respected and comfortable expressing themselves. With these efforts in mind, it will enable you to lead with compassion and become an influential leader who brings people together while successfully tackling challenging issues.


Understanding our impact on others is essential in order to create an environment where everyone feels accepted and respected. As renowned coaches Tony Dungy and Phil Jackson emphasized, we should strive towards understanding different perspectives, listening attentively, and providing constructive feedback whenever possible - ultimately leading to a healthier working atmosphere. By being mindful of the power of our interactions, we can make meaningful connections with those around us that help foster collaboration and growth, enabling effective communication that leads to innovative solutions for even the most challenging problems. With these efforts in mind, it allows leaders to act with compassion and become influential figures who bring people together - helping them achieve tremendous success.


By making meaningful connections with those around us, we can create an environment that encourages collaboration and growth. We should strive to be attentive to different perspectives while also considering how our words and actions affect others. Providing constructive feedback whenever possible allows individuals to learn from any mistakes they've made while feeling supported as they continue on their journey toward excellence, ultimately leading to a healthier working atmosphere where everyone feels respected and comfortable expressing themselves. Through these efforts, leaders can lead with compassion and become influential figures who bring people together - enabling them to build relationships that help achieve more meaningful success in the long run.







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