As I watched Head Coach Herm Edwards address the Kansas City Chiefs’ Team after they defeated the St. Louis Rams in their last pre-season game, the word LEADER came to mind. I was watching a leader do best what a leader does best.

First and foremost, Coach Edwards congratulated them (as a team) for their victory. He made specific references to 3 or 4 things they did well. Then he constructively pointed out things that needed more work. And finally, the Coach said that this week was ‘cut down’ time as the NFL requires that a team can only keep 53 players on their roster. The Chiefs would have to cut 22 players from their present squad.

Herm has often said that ‘cutting’ a player – one who has been, undoubtedly, a top college player and who has given his best effort in their month-long training camp – “well, that’s the toughest part of the job as a head coach” (read: Leader). What was most impressive was what Herm said next, “I will meet with each player (to be cut) and help him understand that this is not an end; that if he continues to believe in himself, other opportunities will open up.” Further, he continued, “We (meaning Herm, as Coach, and the Chiefs’ organization) will be available to help you continue on the path you choose.”

On many NFL teams, a Coach just “picks up the playbook” and often never speaks to the player. That’s what happened to Edwards when he was “released” from the Philadelphia Eagles after nine seasons as a starter – not a word from the Head Coach. Herm thought that was a leadership style he would NOT emulate. Herm walks his talk.

His after-the-game talk to his T.E.A.M. reminded me of what the word L.E.A.D.E.R. means. Using it as a mnemonic device, let’s look at LEADER this way:

L = Love what you do – it is the power of your will
E = Expect excellence – prepare well and you will play like you practiced
A = Attitude – thoughts of the heart
D = Determination – there’s no “quit” in my dictionary
E = Ethics – just do the right thing
R = Roundup (the T.E.A.M.) – each of us needs all of us

My colleague, Mark Sanborn, writes “You don’t need a title to be a leader!” Yet, we see in today’s environment many who shy away from the leadership role. Being a leader takes courage and a willingness to “stand the heat.”

Will you be willing to “step-up” to lead others?

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Author's Bio: 

Jim Tunney had an exemplary career in sports. A former high school coach, teacher, principal and district superintendent, he had a 40-year career in officiating football and basketball. Thirty-one of those years he was an NFL Referee working a record twenty-nine post-season games including three Super Bowls, ten NFC/AFC Championship games, six Pro Bowls and twenty-five Monday Night Games. He officiated some of the most memorable games in NFL history. His book Impartial Judgment: “The Dean of NFL Referees” Calls Pro Football As He Sees It, chronicles his NFL career.
As a Professional Speaker, he is Past President of The National Speakers Association and a Charter Member of its most prestigious group – The CPAE Speakers Hall of Fame. Jim holds every professional designation of the NSA, including the Oscar of Professional Speaking – The Cavett. NSA named him Philanthropist of the Year in 2007.
Dr. Tunney (a doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California) continues to serve his community as a Trustee of both Monterey Peninsula College and York School; where he once served as Headmaster. In 1993, he founded the Jim Tunney Youth Foundation to support local community programs that develop leadership, work skills, wellness and self-esteem in youth. He and his wife Linda live in Pebble Beach, California. They have six children and sixteen grandchildren.
As an author he has written and/or co-authored nine books: Impartial Judgment, Chicken Soup for the Sports Fan’s Soul, Speaking Secrets of the Masters, You Can Do It!, Super Bowl Sunday, Insights into Excellence, Lessons in Leadership, Build a Better You and his most recent book, It’s the Will, Not the Skill.

Jim Tunney Associates
PO Box 1500
Carmel-by-the-Sea, California 99321