The Ohio State football team lost to Penn State last night, an unexpected and frustrating turn of events. Scrolling through Twitter this morning, I found myself irritated—not about the loss, but about some reactions to the loss. Some people feel like they need to say nasty things Coach Urban Meyer, in spite of this being only his fifth loss in five years and his first true road loss in five years. Catch that? The first true road loss in five years.
“Don’t worry about Urban Meyer,” my husband tells me. “He can take it.”
My husband knows a thing or two about athletic leadership. He is an athletic director, overseeing a large middle school athletic program, and has coached football at various levels for almost twenty years.
“I think of it like a musical act,” he said. “It comes down to this: Who’s willing to take the microphone? Or, better, who has to take the mic?” he asked. “Like Taylor Swift. Is she going to let anyone else stand up front and sing the loudest? Hell, no. She knows it has to be her, because she knows she can do it the best. That doesn’t mean she won’t make mistakes—she will—but is willing to risk it because she wants to be the one making decisions.”
“I guess all lead singers are leaders, aren’t they?”
“And the best leaders are lead singers. They just can't… not be in front. That’s what it’s like for Urban Meyer."
So, in thinking about being a leader, that’s the thing to consider when reflecting on our work: “Am I acting like a lead singer?”
If the answer isn’t a simple yes, it’s time to re-evaluate. Because you have be the lead singer in any leadership position--leading a family, leading a class, leading a team, leading a school. You’ve got to plan, organize, and rock the performance—a performance that happens in front of critics, day after day. And you’ve got to lose, too, and take what is said about you, and get up, and do it again.