Greetings once again loyal leaders. Capt. Fletch here with another riveting edition of the Leadership Toolbox! Last month, we discussed the power of “resource-leveling” a project schedule into manageable pieces and better understanding our available assets. This month, I examine a more personal aspect of leadership: pride.
In most leadership circles, we generally avoid the word pride — as if to even say it would invoke the expected downfall to come. It begs the question, is it ever okay to be proud as a leader? I believe the answer is yes. After all, if we exhibit quality leadership, earn the respect of our teams, work hard, and accomplish our goals and milestones, at some point we should be able to celebrate and feel good about ourselves as leaders. The old school of thought says you can celebrate and be proud when you retire. To me, pride comes down to how, and when, you exemplify it.
For instance, this summer I took on the daunting task of acting as the state chairman for Nevada American Legion Baseball. As a head baseball coach at a local high school, my team participated in Legion Baseball last summer. At the conclusion of the summer, I felt the league was not as organized or well run as it should have been. Naturally, being a veteran, I saw a problem and decided — as trained — to find a solution.
I went to the state American Legion leadership and inquired about the position. They were all too happy to have someone willing to take on the task. There I was, preparing to take on a task and I really had no idea what it entailed, but I was excited nonetheless. I had no continuity book to scour, so I was flying the plane as I built it.
I began by gathering interest and holding initial meetings last November. I held several meetings throughout the winter months and began building the league framework, mapping out dates, trying to nail down costs, and ensure commitment from coaches. The last of these proved most difficult, as most coaches cannot predict how many players they would have available for summer at the conclusion of the spring season. Somehow, we made it through all of that and finally arrived at the opening week of summer season. League play began and aside from a supply chain issue with baseballs — another fun topic of discussion for a different day — everything went smoothly.
My framework for the league built on a cornerstone of majority rule for decisions on any issues arising within the league. We had several such decisions that, while not appeasing everyone, concluded fairly. Understand that, in leadership, not every decision pleases everyone. However, people respect you for at least having a decision-making framework and sticking to it.
Understand that, in leadership, not every decision pleases everyone. However, people respect you for at least having a decision-making framework and sticking to it.
We survived these speed bumps and eventually made it to the state tournaments for our three age divisions: 19 and under, 17 and under, and 15 and under. I handed out the newly crafted perennial trophy for each division that would rotate to the winning school each year. Finally, I began the process of completing the paperwork and logistics to get our 19 and under team to the regional tournament for the western region. American Legion baseball is 98 years old this year. Each year the organization hosts one of the oldest amateur baseball events in American history, the American Legion World Series in Cary, North Carolina. To get there, a team must win a state tournament, a regional tournament and, finally, the world series event. Fun fact: Over half of all professional baseball players are alumni of American Legion Baseball.
Where am I going with all of these fun facts and stories about my summer? As I neared the end of my treadmill session two days ago, I found myself feeling a sentiment my father had taught me was the downfall of many good men: pride. I was in a hotel gym in Fairfield, California, preparing to watch the team representing my state participate in the regional tournament. I reflected on all of the twists and turns to arrive at this moment and I decided to allow myself to feel proud of these achievements. We doubled our participation in the league, had a very competitive playoff that produced a high caliber state champion. We ultimately re-established an important league to teach our youth about leadership and help them connect with veterans.
To me, pride is all about how and when you express it. Do you display your pride publicly or privately? Is your pride always on display? Or is it reserved for special moments and milestones? Do you include or thank others in your celebration? Or is it all about you? The truth is, pride is a scale that must be properly balanced. Too much, and people consider you self-centered. Too little, and you give the impression of a leader who does not value the organization’s efforts and accomplishments. That can damage morale. Pride, as an element of leadership, requires continuous self-reflection. Think about the things your team has accomplished and your role in those accomplishments. Ask yourself, Is our pride balanced? The answer is a delicate, yet powerful, tool that could drastically alter the outlook of your team.
Until next time, Capt. Fletch over and out.