Inspiring Leaders - Inspiring Teams

I am pretty sure anyone who leads people hopes that he/she is inspiring. However, I think most of us fall short of the mark of being a truly inspirational leader. That’s why, when someone is known for this trait dies, it’s sad

Recently, we lost legendary coach, Pat Summit. She was the long-time coach of the University of Tennessee’s women’s basketball team. Liz Clarke of the Washington Post called her a “national treasure, enduring role model, ultimate champion.” Those are powerful words but consider this, President Obama said, “Her legacy however, is measured much more by the generations of young women and men who admired Pat’s intense competitiveness and character, and as a result found in themselves the confidence to practice hard, play harder, and live with courage on and off the court.”

Pat Summit inspired her players and others who knew her to be the best they could be. Her boss at UT said she was “a global icon who transcended sports and spent her entire life making a difference in other people’s lives.”

Most of us don’t live our lives in the public eye or have the opportunity to coach a new group of players every few years. But we do have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people we do manage. We can do that by really and truly listening to our employee’s wants and needs and by steering them in a direction that will set them on the path to be productive employees and good corporate citizens.

We also can provide our employees with the best possible development opportunities to maximize their potential—even if it means they leave us and move on to another department or organization. An inspirational leader models courageous behavior and encourages employees to take calculated risks because he/she knows that’s how people learn and grow. An inspiration leader believes in people and lets them know they have total support.

Pat Summit was loved by the women who played for her. She was admired by the coaches her teams competed with. She was respected by professional athletes, parents, and world leaders. I love what she wrote to one of her players in 1982:

“Winning is fun…Sure but winning is not the point. Wanting to win is the point. Not giving up is the point. Never giving up is the point. Never being satisfied with what you’ve done is the point. The game is never over. No matter what the scoreboard reads, or what the referee says, it doesn’t end when you come off the court. The secret of the game is in doing your best. To persist and endure, ‘to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.’”


Now, that’s inspirational! Thank you, Pat Summit!

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