October 1, 2007

5 Leadership Lessons from Jim Tressel

Considering Ohio State's quantum leap up the charts this week, I thought I would post about my observations of Jim Tressel's leadership. Over the his lifetime, Jim Tressel has 5 national championships (1 with Ohio State), an overall record of 66-14, and most importantly 5-1 record against Michigan. Despite the loss to Florida last year, Tressel has coached Ohio State to two National Championship appearance.

Watching Tressel coach the Ohio State Buckeyes is a master's level course in leadership. Here are 5 things that characterize Jim Tressel's leadership:

1. Stay calm. Jim Tressel is one of the calmest coaches I have ever seen. It is not that he doesn't care, it is that he knows panic accomplishes nothing. If he panics, then his team panics, and if his team panics, that is the end. Tressel approaches his games with a calm assurance that he has done everything he can to prepare his team.

2. Know your opponent. Tressel knows his opponents strength and weaknesses. He prepares his team to attack the weakness and tries to diminish the damage of their strength. He has watched hour upon hour of game tape, and has prepared a game plan to achieve his goals.

3. Respect the adversary. Political savvy is part of the game, but Tressel is always respectful of his opponents. He knows and respects their strengths, and NEVER verbally attacks a player or coach. If Ohio State is losing, Tressel affirms the positives of his opponent and recognizes his team's weaknesses.

4. Take calculated risk. Tressel is a rather conservative play caller...until he recognizes the potential for something big or the element of surprise. Jim Tressel has opted for a 30+ yard pass play on a 4th and short. He has run a fake field goal in the early part of the game. He knows the dangers, and is willing to take a risk that is well thought out and is well timed.

5. Invest in people. Tressel is first and foremost about the players. He is a teacher, not just of football, but of life. My respect for him skyrocketed when he tied his bonuses to his players grades and graduations. He wants to win, but he also respects the people involved.

Who is a good leadership model for you? What are some qualities you respect in your favorite team's coach?

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