Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Leadership and sacrificing in sports

Sacrificing personal achievements to lift others to the finish for the greater good...isn’t that what leadership is all about?

By Cheryl Higley
Sports...your success is usually measured by wins and losses and your stats page. We live in a hyper-competitive society, where some will do whatever it takes to win and those who don’t are quickly cast aside. 

When I was asked to write about leadership for the third-annual Snow Business CEO of the Year award, I immediately jumped on the sports topic. I had hoped to write about the leadership coach Tom Crean showed in guiding my beloved IU Hoosiers to a national basketball title, but we know how that turned out. 

So as I pondered what sports success and leadership means, I remembered:
  • In 2008, Western Oregon University senior softball player Sara Tucholsky hit her first ever home run during a playoff game against Central Washington University. She missed first base and as she ran back to tag it tore a ligament in her knee. She crawled back to first base but could not get up. If her teammates helped her, she would be out. Instead two members of the opposing team picked up Tucholsky and carried her around the bases. Her three-run homer counted and eliminated Central Washington from the tournament.
  • In 2012, Ohio high school track star Meghan Vogel had already won a state championship in the 1,600 meters. Running in the 3,200 meters she didn’t have enough left in the tank and decided to run at an easy pace just to finish. From the back of the pack, she watched as a runner fell and got up, only to fall two more times. Vogel sped up, lifted the runner and supported her weight and essentially dragged her to the finish line, making sure she crossed first.
These athletes showed there is more to life than winning. Sacrificing personal achievements to lift others to the finish for the greater good...isn’t that what leadership is all about? 

These athletes set an excellent example of how to show leadership. Those who emulate them, I believe, will be more successful and respected than those who climb their way to the top with little regard for those they stomp on in their journey to win at any cost. Just ask fired Rutgers coach Mike Rice. 

SIMA’s CEO of the Year award was created to recognize leaders with many of these leadership traits, and how they reflect on the values and culture of professional snow and ice management companies. If you work with or know of someone who would be a great candidate to receive the CEO of the Year Award in 2013, please nominate them at www.sima.org/ceo.

Cheryl Higley is Editor of Snow Business magazeine. 

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