3 Leadership Lessons from a Football Championship

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Whether you’re a college football fan or not doesn’t mean you can’t learn these 3 great leadership lessons.

Within Clemson’s victory over Alabama are some powerful lessons we can all benefit from.

College football recently crowned its national champion and Clemson came out on top. Their coach, Dabo Swinney led his Tigers to a resounding victory over the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide and within that win, are 3 very powerful leadership lessons we can all benefit from:

  1. You Play the Opponent, Not the Legend – Alabama was the heavy favorite to repeat as national champions under the dominant coaching of Nick Saban. In his 11 years at Alabama, Saban has led the Crimson Tide to 5 national championships and an almost boring dominance of college football. Bama football has become legendary. But up the road a couple hundred miles, the Clemson Tigers prepared to play the current Bama football team, and not the legend of Alabama football or the previous 5 national champions. Find the gaps or the weaknesses in the team you’re playing right now. Every team has some, no matter how good they are, so find them and attack them. Legends are powerful things and can feel impossible to beat, so don’t ever play the legend, play the team on the other side of the field.
  2. Be An Over Believer – Clemson’s head football coach is Dabo Swinney, and the best thing I heard him say, was that he’s not an over-achiever, he’s an over-believer! He’s constantly dropping belief bombs on his players to help them believe in their skill, their teammates, their coaching staff and their preparation. As you go through your coaching day, challenge yourself to be more of an over believer. Another word for belief is confidence, and nobody won a championship without an incredible amount of self-belief!
  3. Be Your True Self – Not only was this football game a clash of two titan programs, but it was clash of two very different coaches. Nick Saban is very tough, demanding, and serious as a coach. He doesn’t appear to like smiling, and to say he’s all business might be an understatement. But, that’s who he is as a person. He’s extremely driven and detailed and serious. For Nick Saban to try and become something different wouldn’t allow him to be his true self. He has 5 national championships to show for his efforts and yet, his style won’t work for every player, but then he doesn’t want to coach every player. He’s looking for those players that want to play for his style of coach.

    Dabo Swinney couldn’t be any more different. He’s outgoing, always smiling, loves to talk and loves having fun. His program reflects his personality and so do his players. Much like Lonni Alameda and Florida State Softball, Dabo Swinney has created a program that embraces fun while taking care of the hard work and details. And while Dabo hasn’t won 5 national championships, he did just win his second in 4 years.

The lesson here isn’t to coach like Nick Saban or like Dabo Swinney. The lesson is to be your true self when you coach. It gives you the greatest chance to bring out your best, and the best from each of your players.

If you’re looking for more help with your coaching leadership, then check out our:

7 Level Coaching Certification Program.

Comments 2
  1. Excellent, excellent article. Something I used to deal with every day, especially when I transitioned from coaching high school baseball to youth fastpitch softball. Now something to keep in mind as I move back up to coaching high school softball.

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