Leadership!  It separates good from great, light from dark, right from left, soldiers from generals.  I love to read about it. I love to study it. I love to relay it.

One reason I love studying leadership so much is because I’m in the leadership business: athletics.

Leadership plays an important role in every aspect of life; however, I’m not sure that there is another medium where leadership  is so important.

I also love to study leadership because one day I want to give my kids a leadership manual.  It’s something we talk about nearly every day with our kids – being a good leader.  Just today my oldest son, who is 6,  got a talking to at Sunday School for leading kids in a negative way.  “He’s always such a good leader, everyone follows him. Today he wasn’t a good leader.”  So, we chatted about that shortly. (I tend to give lectures, which I don’t want to do!)


Baltimore Ravens Head Football Coach John Harbaugh (left) and owner Steve Bisciotti.


The owner of the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens Steve Bisciotti said some TERRIFIC things tonight in  a post game interview on the set of CBS about the leadership of Head Coach John Harbaugh, and I wanted to share what he said.

“He treats them as individuals. When I hired him I told him that if you spend five times the amount of time talking to individuals than you do with the team, you will win.  You have to build a team one by one, block by block.  People get tired of hearing you talk too long all the time.  Talk in front of everybody for 10 minutes and spend the next 8 hours talking one on one with the players.  Find out what their dreams are and make sure you design a team and a goal that will achieve theirs too. If you do, they will work hard for you.”



If you don’t understand this concept as a leader, you will not be an effective one in my opinion.  People are important.  And if you don’t treat them well, they will not perform well for you.  If you are a middle manager in an office or a head football coach in the National Football League, you’ve got to treat people well as individuals.

Egos need to be massaged all of the time; especially in this day and age where everybody receives a trophy.  I can’t even imagine negotiating the egos in an NFL locker room.  But Coach Harbaugh has come to understand that it happens in the one on one conversations and the time you spend forging that relationship as their leader. 

In Phillipians chapter 2 of the Bible, Paul says “Consider others better than yourself.”  This is one of the hardest Biblical principles I’ve ever read.  But if you are able to apply it, you will succeed as a leader.  You have got to treat those under your leadership as individuals who have dreams and desires; not just as general teammates.

When you are able to build relationships with those individual players, when you get to know what their dreams are, what makes them tick, they will go through a wall for you.  They will tear that wall down for you IF they know you care about them.

People can’t be just a cog in the wheel, they have to be a known commodity in that wheel.


There aren’t many NFL coaches who would be seen in a picture with their players like this. Can you see Belichick or Reid posing like this?!



Notice how Biscotti broke this down to HOW to build: block by block.  Building a team takes time.  I would love to research and write a book called THIRD YEAR CHAMPS!  It seems that so many coaches have turned programs around in their third season.  Take for instance Jimmy Johnson. He was 8-5 in the first year with the Miami Hurricanes, 11-1 in his third year.  Then he went to the Dallas Cowboys where he was 1-15 in his first year with the Dallas Cowboys, and then 11-5 in his third year.  He was 8-8 in his first year with the Dolphins, 10-6 in his third year.

Bill Belichick took his program from 5-11 in first year with the Patriots to 11-5 in his second year, and then won the Super Bowl with a 14-5 record; and then two more Super Bowl wins with 17-2 records in back to back years.

Building a champion takes time and patience as a leader. Yes there are abnormalities, but you usually can’t just walk in and change a losing culture and win.  Some guys do that, yes.  But the main reason you do not see this happen more, in my opinion, is because a leader has to have time to build trust and confidence in his troops.

Being a successful leader is about a process that takes time; block by block, wall by wall.  The old quote that “Rome wasn’t built in a day” is applicable to leadership.  There are NO shortcuts in leadership!