Every now and then, kids teach adults a thing or two about life. I experienced such an event this past weekend. At a youth soccer game featuring teams of 9 and 10 year old children, one team was beating the other pretty soundly. The goalie for the team that was losing was getting very upset and eventually, after yet another goal, started crying on the field. He was a relatively big boy for his age, taller than most of the kids on the field, but he broke down at his inability to stop many of the opposing players’ shots.
Before the kick to restart play after this latest goal, a smaller boy on this goalie’s team went over to cheer him up. You could see the boy reaching up to the goalie to pat him on the back, and telling him not to worry about the goals. When the referee asked if the team was ready for the kickoff, the smaller boy told the referee he needed one more minute. He continued cheering up his friend and encouraging him to go on. Then, once play resumed, this boy stood back by the goal with his friend as if to say, “we are in this together.” Although the ball and players moved to the opposite side of the field, this boy stayed with his friend, the goalie, and together they defended the goal.
It was really an amazing display of teamwork, compassion, and caring. And it was shown to us by a 9 or 10 year old boy. I wonder how many of us care enough to “stop the game” to take care of a teammate who is feeling down. How many of us will sacrifice our goals to help a teammate in need? How many of us have the courage to show warmth and compassion in front of other people who are watching? How many of us even recognize when a teammate is defeated and needs a boost?
As leaders, compassion and caring are some of our most effective tools. If we can be as aware as this young boy, and then be as courageous and vulnerable, we have the chance to be truly inspirational leaders. Be aware of your team members and how they are feeling. Then acknowledge their feelings, and show compassion and support. In return, your team will be loyal and committed to you and your organization.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. – Check out my website at http://www.jvearle.com and keep me in mind if you hear of any opportunities to share my thoughts on leadership.