Posted by: David D. Daggett | January 18, 2010

Leadership Through Team Building

Leadership Through Team Building

       Team building is an important leadership skill. I was recently privileged to speak at a leadership conference for lawyers alongside Coach Terry Holland; Coach Holland spoke about leadership through team building.

Coach Holland is probably best known as the long time successful basketball coach at the University of Virginia. There he coached many stars, had many NCAA appearances and successes, and was leader for other coaches in the athletic community. Currently Coach Holland serves as the athletic director at East Carolina University.

In his talk Coach Holland made four main points regarding leadership. He sprinkled his points with humor, stories, and displayed an affable personality that was quite endearing. Following are the points he impressed upon me.

The best leaders are also the best followers. In order to learn and be prepared for leadership, we must first follow, support, and work for leaders. Further, we continue to develop our leadership skills by continuing to be good followers. Remember, most persons in leadership positions are part of a bigger team. Accordingly, we are usually leading and following at the same time.

It is important to earn the right to step forward when the team needs us to. Good leaders many times disappear from the picture when everything is going well. However, when needed at a critical time the leadership is earned and the leader steps forward and is supported almost intuitively. In athletics, earning the right to step forward is obtained through extra practice, extra drills, and extra commitment.

One of the jobs of a successful leader is to balance short term and long term goals. Sometimes these can be in conflict so successful leaders know how to find a right balance. Coach Holland asked rhetorically, does a coach want a short term win, or a long term program? Coach Holland also implored leaders to be more concerned about character than about reputation. Character is lasting, reputation can be short lived.

Lastly, leaders need to have a strong commitment to a game plan, but the flexibility to adapt to changing environments. In making decisions Coach Holland advised always getting as much information as you can. Good leaders are always prepared to adapt to new information. However, when a decision needs to be made, leaders make those decisions firmly, decisively, and quickly.

Leadership is an ongoing learning process. I felt privileged to participate in program that included such a great leader as Coach Holland.

Building for leadership,


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