It has been awhile since I have lifted a pen to contribute to our blog. I recently read an article that has motivated me to offer a very real-world example of timeless leadership. It is not often something strikes me as powerful — as this article has — and as you will see, there are some familiar names in the piece.
Just for some quick background: I have had the absolute good fortune to speak with business leaders around the world on how to attract and retain millennial talent. From the boardroom to military officers, our conversation always comes back around to timeless leadership.
I strongly believe that business leaders are really overcomplicating what it takes to attract and retain this next generation of talent. I have often said, “Millennials are looking to attach their wagon to a strong leadership horse”. The key strategic differentiator to attracting and retaining top talent is leadership. Timeless leadership. 21st-century leadership.
The next biggest differentiator is developing your 21st-century talent. Talent, in and of itself, is not enough. Talent is simply potential. Everyone knows people with unlimited potential who never actually achieve their goals. It is a leader’s job to develop the team and help the potential to blossom. In fact, helping develop the talent is timeless leadership.
Please take a moment to read this article as the remainder of this blog will aim to uncover five key points that can translate into any leadership situation.
The article is about Bob Palko, who has won more football championships than any other coach in Western Pennsylvania history. Since Western Pennsylvania is known as a hotbed of football talent, this is an extraordinary accomplishment.
Timeless Leadership Concept One: The transition from Generation X to Generation Y
Bob began his career coaching Gen X athletes. He won his first championship with Gen X players. As the generation we have come to know as Gen Y (aka Millennials) progressed into Bob’s program, the tradition of winning continued. It is not a generational thing. It is a timeless leadership thing.
Timeless Leadership Concept Two: The commitment to developing talent
Bob is quick to point out that he is not responsible for the success of his program. He explains that it is based on something else. For when he embarked on his coaching career, he made a commitment to develop everyone in his program — both players and coaches. This point is critical because he does not assume to be all things to all people. Even though he is the head coach, Bob has other people he can rely — and depend — on to coach.
Too often we see business leaders who do not appoint outside coaches for their talent. They believe it is their job and are hesitant to share the responsibility, however, they never seem to find enough time to adequately coach and develop their players. There simply is not enough time for leaders to coach everyone all of the time.
Timeless Leadership Concept Three: “It is about the we, not the I”
Throughout his research for his best-selling book, “Good to Great”, Jim Collins found that companies who achieved greatness were led by what he called “Level 5 Leaders”. This is Level 5 Leadership.
Level 5 Leaders also possess the fourth and fifth points in this article I would ask you to consider: Timeless leadership is about giving credit where credit is due and remaining humble. These two elements show high emotional intelligence on the leaders’ part. It becomes easier to “rally the team” when everyone knows they are in it together.
Maybe I should have titled this blog “Lessons from a Coach” or something similar. This article, however, has nothing to do with sports. This has everything to do with 21st-century leadership. Whether showcasing a football team, a small business, or a Fortune 500, the leadership points in this article are valuable…. and timeless.