Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's Great to Be An Auburn Tiger

Congratulations to my alma mater, Auburn University, for winning the school’s first football national title since 1957.

I watched every bit of the game and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning taking in the postgame ceremonies on ESPN and our local news channel.

I will be the first to admit that I was one of those people who was a little leery of Coach Gene Chizik’s hiring as the head football coach. However, I learned something about leadership watching Chizik the past two years.

1. When you’re in a job and things don’t go your way, learn from it. This is what Chizik did at Iowa State when he coached them to a 5-19 record before taking over at Auburn.

2. Hire a great staff. At Auburn, Chizik put together what is arguably one of the best staffs in the country led by the dynamic and creative Gus Malzahn and the energetic “Trooper” Taylor.

3. Recruit the best talent possible. My father was a successful high school basketball coach, and he drilled it into my head early on saying, “Kelvin, it doesn’t matter how good you are at X’s and Oz, you can’t win without talent. Under Chizik’s two-year leadership reign at Auburn, he has put together two top ten recruiting classes and is headed for his third.

4. It’s all about “We” and “Our” not “Me and Mine.” According to Jim Kouzes, author of the bestselling book, The Leadership Challenge, great leaders never use the term me and mine when describing their team or their personal best experience. When listening to Chizik talk about the football team, he uses words like family, we, and our.

5. Do What You Do. Although I believe he got the phrase from Tony Dungy’s book, Quiet Strength, this is one of Chizik’s favorite phrases. Whether things are going well or poorly, stay the course and do what you do best. The Auburn football team trailed in almost every game this season, but “we” won every one of them.

I’m a homer. I admit that. However, no matter the person or the organization, I believe there are lessons in leadership in every situation. In this case, I just happened to find one, if not more, in my beloved 2010 Auburn Tigers.

War Eagle!

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