Saturday I watched as my son Bridger, the team captain, quietly huddled with his teammates on the sidelines. Although his team was winning the game, things were not going as planned with two quick turnovers in the game and the team completely out of sync. Silence filled the sidelines as the players each struggled to figure out why they were playing so poorly. I watched as Bridger quietly thought about the situation, keeping to himself and letting the moral on the team get away from them.
Throughout the early season, Bridger has taken great pride in leading his team both on and off the field. He always marched the sidelines pumping up his teammates both in the game and out. He was always vocal and excited as he did his best to motivate them each and every game. The team was proud with their undefeated record and Bridger immensely excited at the teams success. He was so excited when he was voted team captain. We spoke often of leadership and how to motivate and encourage his friends while remaining humble. We talked about leadership and that the best and greatest leaders are never cocky and always humble. They inspire others and never degrade.
Saturday brought yet another great opportunity for me to teach my son about leadership. I patiently watched throughout the first quarter as he remained quiet and withdrawn through the upsets that came with this game. His team had never struggled with turnovers and overall poor play in previous games, yet now faced with this challenge, he and his teammates remained withdrawn and silent, shocked at what was happening.
Finally an opportunity at the end of the first quarter arrived and I was able to speak with my son privately. I gently placed my arm around his shoulder pads and leaning close I whispered to him “Anyone can motivate and lead a team that is winning and playing well, great leaders motivate and inspire when things aren’t going well. You’re the team captain, lead them and inspire them when they need it. It is time to be a leader. I believe in you, now go lead this team and get them excited to go win.”
Now whether or not they win or lose is not important to me. What is important to me is that my son learns how to treat others and to be a leader. I proudly watched as my son no longer remained withdrawn and quiet. He began marching up the sidelines telling his teammates that he believed in them and that they can do this. He became the biggest cheerleader on the sidelines.
The boys had fun. They forgot the problems and played like they normally did. Most importantly my son learned a valuable lesson in how a leader acts especially when things aren’t going well.
Anyone can lead when things are going well, Great leaders can lead when things are not.