Tim Tebow is a rookie quarterback for the Denver Broncos. He is beloved by fans and teammates and maligned by the critics and talking heads on Sports Center. One thing that everyone agrees on, he is a natural leader. There is a very well written article in today’s Washington Post by Sally Jenkins. She is one of my favorite sports columnists and one of the most insightful. Her article talks about two things that resonated with me. One, she talks about leadership from the followers’ point of view. She says, “A leader is worth nothing without voluntary commitment, because the followers are actually more in charge of the outcome.” Tebow’s players love him and they want to play harder for him. Jenkins writes that the players were looking for a leader like Tebow and that Tebow’s leaderships is as much about his leadership ability as the followers’ willingness to be led.
The second point that really resonated with me has to do with a leader’s ability to be genuine. She compares Tebow with two area coaches who have lost their teams. She makes the pint that these two coaches tried to be something they were not. A leader cannot simply emulate someone else’s style. A leader cannot impose personal dominance, if they are not perceived as personally dominant by their followers. Jenkins compares Tebow to the two coaches by saying, “Tebow grasps something about leadership that Boudreau and Edsall have yet to learn: It’s not about domination but about persuasion. Someone who tries to force others to do his bidding isn’t a leader; he’s a warlord. Leadership only works when other people find you credible and grant you their cooperation.” The two coaches, Boudreau and Edsall, tried to be something they were not and that ultimate cost them their ability to lead.
This article is worth a read, even if you are not a sports fan. It is much more about leadership than sports and Jenkins references leadership in both business and sports.