By: Dan Cohen – 9/30/14
Who comes to mind when we think of great leaders? George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, FDR, Margaret Thatcher, MLK? All of the above? Leaders inspire. They exude confidence in others. They have passion. They accept responsibility and fault. But most of all, they do things because it is the right thing to do – not just the popular thing to do. Great leaders don’t make excuses or blame others when things go wrong. This past weekend, I witnessed some pretty inept leadership by two supposed leaders.
First, I watched with disgust as President Obama played the “blame” game by publicly blaming his intelligence team for not knowing that ISIS posed such a threat to the world, much as he did when he announced a complete lack of knowledge that there was an imminent threat in Benghazi. I also watched with amazement as Michigan’s much maligned football coach, Brady Hoke, claimed he did not know his quarterback was hurt when all 102,926 fans in attendance could tell. Of course, making matters significantly worse for Coach Hoke was the announcement earlier today by his boss Dave Brandon that Shane Morris had a probable mild concussion.
Couldn’t they have each said, “It is my fault, and I take full responsibility for what happened?” I certainly would feel better if I did not have to try to figure out if my President or my team’s football coach had just lied to me or placed a bit too much spin on their comments. Great leaders don’t do that, do they?
The weekend also brought closure to the 20 year Hall of Fame baseball career of Derek Jeter. Jeter was the captain of the Yankees for over 10 years, was a 14 time All-Star and possibly the greatest shortstop ever to play the game. But his statistics alone will not be his legacy. It will be his leadership role with the Yankees for most of his 20 years. Seasoned veterans looked up to him when he was just a few years removed from Kalamazoo Central High School. Jeter led by example. He said all the right things. He was humble. He was positive. He did not make excuses or blame others. He was and is a leader!