By Gregory L. Gamble II
As a leader, some of the most daunting tasks are discovering who you are as an individual, what your leadership style should be and creating a formula that positively influences the actions of those around you. More often than not, this process will include outside sources like mentors and influencers that you follow and heed to their instructions. This highlights a critical point in being a leader: All leaders are great followers and they are also good liars, cheaters, thieves, and have unrealistic obsessions.
As a former captain on the Niagara Falls High School National Championship Boys’ Basketball team, I was surrounded by alpha males. Two of whom, later went on to play in the NBA and one in the NFL. In order to lead alpha males, I had to be extremely dominant and strategic. My father taught me the importance of detail, efficiency and about intangibles, which led to me being what coaches refer to as a “glue guy”: dependable, intelligent, determined, capable, and versatile.
In High School I learned the value of being able to do everything basketball entailed: to score efficiently, pass and involve others, motivate, defend other team’s best players, and do the dirty work. By the time I arrived first year at The University at Buffalo, I carried those same tendencies and quickly found out was that what made me successful at Niagara Falls High School is not what made me successful at The University at Buffalo.
Being extremely dominant, getting in teammates faces, using competitive language, being willing to push teammates to the brink of altercation did not warrant positive responses the way it did in high school. As a leader in college basketball, I had to now study not only what made me tick, but also what made my teammates tick. The new demographics of my teammates changed from young men who grew up in a 5-mile radius, to adult men with international upbringings.
My solution to manage this new environment was taking a leadership class (something I strongly advise) where I learned that in order to lead, I had to find out the motivating factors for each one of my teammates. I found that sometimes, lying meant providing encouragement even when a teammates efforts were not good enough and the result of that reflected in more effort being put forth. Cheating meant taking on others responsibilities for the good of the team. As a thief, I took ideas from other players and coaches and implemented them on our team and being obsessed meant that I was obsessed with winning, even when we were not winning.
Ultimately, leadership is an act of self-sacrifice. To lead, you are signing up to do what is necessary for the good of the goal which is to win. Leadership does not mean perfection. Howbeit, great leaders strive to be nothing less than perfect.
Stay tuned for Part 3: The Art of Competition
Gregory L. Gamble II is a College Access Expert at Daemon College Former Student Athlete & Student Athlete Advocate