In all aspects of life there is a demand for leadership. Most of the time there is a search going on for effective leaders. A breakdown in leadership will leave a family struggling for direction and meaning in life, it will leave a church in disarray, with no real idea of how to serve, move forward or grow. Lack of leadership in business will lead to the ruin of the business and the disenchantment of all who are part of the company. A lack of leadership in a team, such as a football team will make talent useless and desire as fools gold. Take a look around at football teams for this season that were supposed to accomplish great things but have struggled all season long to put together a winning record they can be proud of.
In Arkansas the hopes were high that this would be the season for the Razorbacks. There was plenty of talk going around about winning the national title as number one. The talent level was high. We had a special quarterback returning for his final season before a lucrative offer in the pros would lead to his next step in life. An outstanding running back who was injured last year and unable to play but now he was ready for this new season. Everything looked as though this would be the best season we had experienced in years. Then, things began to unravel. The prized coach that was the highest paid state employee in the state and one whom most were ready to overlook all his peculiarities since he was able to produce a winning team. But we didn’t know many of the things going on in his life. When he had his motorcycle wreck and appeared on TV looking like someone had given him a royal beating, slowly we began to hear of things we didn’t want to hear. Suddenly he was fired and there was a sick feeling in most of the state as we watched the hoped for greatest season turn into a season of struggles.
I’m not questioning Jeff Long’s temporary hire. I suspect it was as good as could be done under the circumstances. But it is obvious how things changed when the one who was leading the team was gone and no one else seemed to be ready to step up as the leader of the group. We have the same players now we had when everyone was talking about how great we would be. But a lack of leadership will bring disaster no matter what the talent level may be.
I’ve heard some say that we should have overlooked the former coach’s character flaws and allowed him to go on as the coach of the team. I couldn’t disagree more. I liked many things about his coaching style. But when you have someone leading a team of young men coming right out of high school who is dishonest, even with his family, his peers and his boss the team can’t learn the lessons needed to be effective men in life as a whole. College football is a part of one’s life for 4 or 5 years. They should be learning how to be part of a team, give their best effort and keep on working when we are hurt and tired. But how can they learn to be men of integrity when the one leading them doesn’t have it? How can they learn how to be faithful to your wife and children at home when the one leading them is betraying his wife and children to play house with a girl half his age? Truthfully, I would have been for firing him when it all began to come out if it had meant the whole season had to be cancelled. A leader can’t lead those under him to higher character and integrity than they have themselves.
It doesn’t matter where you are looking for leadership, nor what kind of business, sport or institution we want them to lead, we should look first at the integrity and character of the person. If a person is willing to mistreat the one they are working for when you approach them to come work for your company, school or organization, then the day will come when they are willing to mistreat you to go to someone else that is offering them more to come there. Now there is one other thing that must be said with this. Even if a person has integrity and character, it doesn’t mean they will be real leaders. You can’t be a good leader for the long haul without integrity and character. But you can have them and not be a good leader.
Leadership is the ability to get others to do what is important to you to the very best of their ability. It is to inspire people to achieve. It is the ability to see what can be instead of just what we are. Great leaders are hard to find but you can look at a person’s team over the long run and determine what kind of leader they really are. It would be good to raise the question, if it were my son or daughter that was going to be playing for this person or working for them, is this the kind of leader I would want? If your answer is “No” you probably need to continue the search.