A high school basketball coach finds himself in a small community losing hundreds of jobs when a major employer shuts down. Many of the town's talented young athletes will be forced to relocate when their parents do.
In the midst of one promising team unraveling, the coach is asked to lead the cross country runners. That sport attracts just one student, and she happens to have asthma and must carry an inhaler.
By chance, or it could also be called providence, the coach builds a friendship with someone he later discovers is closely connected to his sole cross country competitor.
Without being too much of a spoiler, those scenarios help describe the movie “Overcomer,” released in late August. The theme was developed by the same men behind other movies with faith-based messages including “Facing the Giants” and the box-office hit, the “War Room.”
One of the bloggers I most admire, Brian K. Dodd, often finds leadership lessons in top sports news and creates lists of key takeaways. In fact, Dodd did so last Monday, sending subscribers an email with 10 thoughts after Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck announced he would retire.
Two of Dodd's thoughts concerning Luck: “Organizations who do not value elite performers run the risk of losing elite performers” and “Elite performers carry a disproportional amount of responsibility.”
Before going to see “Overcomer” on Aug. 24, I had decided to look for leadership messages. So, my list of 10 takeaways:
1. Other people will often see the potential to expand your leadership territory before you do, so leaders have to be prepared to move beyond comfort zones. Strengths in one area can often lead to success in other areas.
2. If you can develop and change the outlook and outcome for just one person, that's leadership. It isn't always about the masses, so don't be too quick to throw in the towel.
3. Leaders might have more empathy when they attempt the very challenge they're responsible for guiding someone else through.
4. Leaders, like anyone, can be frustrated by changes beyond their control. But the best leaders don't let the frustration derail them and should avoid letting it affect relationships with others.
5. Even with good instinct, leaders sometimes benefit from input from individuals known to honor confidentiality, especially when the stakes are high – emotionally or certainly ethically.
6. Even when leaders have confirmation on tough decisions, it doesn't mean everyone will be pleased. They might be harshly confronted in person or, worse, (not in the movie, but worth pointing out) become the subject of behind-the-scenes attacks.
7. Leadership requires creativity, discovering how changes you might be tempted to reject can actually work in your favor and help you help others.
8. Leaders who face attack are sometimes vindicated, maybe even forgiven, in the end. That's especially rewarding when, rather than personal grudge or agenda, the leader had the best interest of others or the entire organization at heart. Know this: If you are really a leader, everyone isn't always going to agree with you. Along with humility, you need tough skin.
9. Know your purpose and who you are. Some people call it their “why.” It shouldn't be limited or bound by your title or position because those can change. But what is the passion that drives you regardless of circumstance?
10. Leaders leave a legacy. Hopefully, someone, someday, somewhere will recall the insight or encouragement you gave and how it led to their success. Don't worry about whether you'll be around to hear or see it. The best leaders do what they do because it's the right thing to do.
To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at email@example.com. Lead On also appears online as a blog at www.journalgazette.net/blog/lead-on/