Jon Gordon’s keynote speech during the 2015 WBCA Convention, titled The Power of a Positive Leader, was influenced by his past experiences with positive and negative leaders — more specifically two high school teachers.
With hopes of attending Cornell University, Gordon’s English teacher told him not to apply because he wouldn’t be accepted and the work would be too hard. Gordon later receive positive feedback from another teacher who pushed him to go for his dream, leading him to become a successful lacrosse student-athlete at Cornell.
His experience playing NCAA Division I lacrosse at Cornell made him who he is today, an outcome that would have been different without the impact of a teacher who pushed him toward his potential and his dreams.
In his session, Gordon shared his 10 Characteristics of Positive Leaders, including:
Drive positive culture. Culture drives expectations and beliefs. Know what your culture (team) stands for, then find the right people who fit it (i.e., student-athletes, assistants).
Create a vision. Find something that keeps the team pushing to the end goal. Do you want to be the best defensive team? Most explosive? Highest scorers? Once you know your vision, develop one word to summarize it and live by that word all season. Re-enforce the word(s) by creating posters for games or placing on lockers.
Block out energy vampires. A team that stays positive together will get hit with hard times that try to suck out the good energy. Taking time to establish good energy at the beginning of the season will help eliminate future issues.
Lead with optimism. Optimistic people have been known to go further with greater chances of success. They think anything is possible and push to make things work. Once you get your team to buy into that positive spirit, a losing team can soon become a threat.
Focus on what you get to do and not what you have to do. The impact of playing sports in college is huge on student-athletes. The impact of positive coaches is even larger when building phenomenal future leaders. “Coaches impact more people in a year than others do in a lifetime,” said Gordon.
- Embrace failure. It’s the path to growth. Those who overcome failure become stronger and better equipped to handle the odds under pressure.