Sunday, October 01, 2006

Leadership's Football

I've always loved the story of when Vince Lombardi started coaching the Packers. He wanted to make sure the team had a good foundation so he got them together and said, "Let's start at the beginning. This is a football."

So, let us start at the beginning. The foundation of leadership is to lead. Try to wipe away all the nuance you have in your head about the word "lead." At its foundation, "lead" means to go first. A leader needs to go first. He or she needs to show the team the direction by going there first. Be out in the front of the pack. Set an example of the behavior you want to get.

Instructors have a concept called the six-second rule. When you ask a question in a class, it takes people six seconds to process the question, decide if they can answer, and get up the courage to answer. If I really want an answer in a class I'm teaching, I have to wait the whole six seconds to get it. On the other hand, if I just want to look like I want an answer, I wait just four or five seconds.

Leaders, as a group, don't tend to wait the full six seconds. They tend to answer early. This demonstrates the first principle of leadership: leaders lead. If you want to build a more dynamic environment, break the six-second rule. To do this, you need to break the inhibition you have about going first. You need to get over the fear of leading, that is being out in front. Break all the six-second rules you come across.


Troy Worman said...

Excellent post, Ken. Leaders lead. It's that simple.

Phil Gerbyshak said...

Very interesting. I'd never heard of the 6 second rule before. I agree with you (and Troy). Leaders lead. Simple. Quick. Easy.

Ken Flowers said...

Thank you both for your comments. It is easy to forget the basics. Phil, give the 6 second rule a try. It works best in larger groups, that is over 6 or so.