Back in March of this year, I wrote about Dabo Swinney’s coaching philosophy (A Championship Coach Says Love, Serve, and Care). Swinney believes you must love your players, and be able to show it, in order to be a coach who gets the most out of each individual player. In my post back in March, I suggested that love was also the key to effective leadership.
Coincidentally, it was love that may have beaten Swinney’s Clemson Tigers yesterday. The Clemson football team suffered a difficult defeat yesterday when the Pittsburgh Panthers came into “Death Valley” (Clemson’s stadium) and, despite being significant underdogs, came away with a stunning victory. The game was won on a 48-yard field goal by Pitt’s kicker, Chris Blewitt. So how did love play a part in this outcome?
Earlier in the game, Blewitt missed an extra point and had a field goal blocked. He was having a really bad day. After these two missed kicks, the television cameras caught Pitt Coach Pat Narduzzi talking with Blewitt and trying to keep his kicker’s spirits up. Something Narduzzi said got a smile out of Blewitt and then Narduzzi kissed his kicker twice on the cheek. Narduzzi would later say he was just trying to keep his kicker positive. The coach knew the team might need Blewitt later in the game and he was showing how much he cares for his kicker as a way to keep him positive.
The approach worked. Blewitt came back on the field with just 6 seconds left and kicked the 48-yard field goal to give the Panthers the win.
It is certainly a secure leader who can show his affection the way Narduzzi did. Now I understand a kiss may not always be an appropriate way to show that you care. But the kiss is symbolic of caring leadership. And the lesson for us is that when we show that we care, appreciate, and value our team members, it gives them the strength, courage, and confidence to rise up and accomplish great things.
Think about how fragile Blewitt’s confidence and mindset would have been had Narduzzi not showed him that he still loved him despite his earlier errors. I wonder if Blewitt could have made that game-winning kick if his coach had not given him the trust and confidence to do so. When you are a leader who loves, serves, and cares, you allow your team members to make mistakes and to learn from them. When you are a leader who loves, serves, and cares, you give your team members strength and resilience so they get back up and pursue greatness after they get knocked down. So this week, work on being a leader who loves, serves, and cares.
Thanks for reading,
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