We can always count on March Madness, the annual NCAA college basketball tournament, to provide some great stories. And the start of the tournament this week did not disappoint.
First there was Ron Hunter, the head coach of Georgia State who injured his achilles tendon celebrating his team’s victory in the conference championship game. Because of his injury, Hunter was forced to sit on a stool while coaching Georgia State in the NCAA tournament. Near the end of their first game, a victory against a heavily favored Baylor team, Hunter fell off the stool in the excitement of his team hitting the game winning shot. That game winning shot, just happened to be the handiwork of his son R.J., a junior on the team. Georgia State lost their second game of the tournament, but by this time, Hunter, and his epic fall from his stool, was a national story. At the press conference following their loss, Hunter broke down in tears as he talked about his son, who was sitting next to him. Hunter told the world how much he loved his son and how much this week meant to him. He had the chance to coach his son in the NCAA tournament, and to watch his son hit the game winning shot in their upset victory. It was emotional and very special. Hunter showed the world that it is okay for leaders to show emotion and express their true feelings.
Then there was the sad story of Yanick Moreira, a senior at Southern Methodist University. SMU was a favorite to defeat UCLA in their first game of the tournament. And it appeared they were in position to win when UCLA took a desperation shot late in the game. The shot, appearing to go wide of the rim, was pulled down by Moreira, who was then called for a goaltending. Although the ball did not seem like it had a chance to go in, UCLA was awarded the basket and won the game. In my opinion, it was a bad call. At the post game press conference, Moreira fought back tears as he took responsibility for his team’s loss. “It’s all my fault. I take the blame,” said Moreira. Games are not lost on a single play. There are always multiple reasons why a team loses a game. Moreira did not cause the SMU loss. Moreira could have blamed the referees for the SMU loss; but he didn’t. He didn’t point fingers or try to deflect responsibility. He showed tremendous strength, courage, and leadership. He was accountable and responsible for his actions.
So this first weekend, we learned to celebrate our successes (but know our limits so we don’t get injured while celebrating!). We learned that it’s okay to show our emotions. Yes, even leaders can show they care and express their feelings. This shows the team that we are human too. Lastly, we learned that even in the most difficult times, the strongest leaders show courage; they step up and take accountability for their actions. Thanks Ron Hunter and Yanick Moreira for teaching us these leadership lessons during this first week of March Madness.
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.