Leadership Starts With Connection

Mar 25, 2021

A few years ago I was moving into a new role as a sales leader. I asked a good friend who happens to be a C-level leader at a Fortune 500 company what the most important part of managing people was. He simply said to ensure they know you care. It was great advice. And, advice I often lean on. Of course, there’s much more to managing and leading than that but it all starts with that. Caring leads to connection and with a strong connection, you can do some great things. You can challenge more, encourage more, have more candid dialogue, etc. It’s about trust. The best teams have this. There’s a great documentary on Netflix called Playbook that highlights some of the best sports coaches in the world. One of the episodes is about NBA coach Doc Rivers and it dives into his time with the Celtics and leading them to the NBA championship. Doc heard through a friend of an African term called Ubuntu. A rallying cry of sorts that connects members of a tribe in an unbreakable bond. The official meaning is “I am because we are.” As the author Jon Gordon likes to say “We before Me”. The Celtics started to use that as their team motto. It seared them and they went on to win the NBA title in 2008.

I sat down a few months ago and had a conversation with Bowling Green Men’s Soccer Coach, Eric Nichols. I also get to serve on Coach Nichols advisory board and get to see the behind the scenes of how he leads. We have many leadership conversations and he’s doing a great job in his 10+ years at the helm. I played at Bowling Green many years ago. It’s not easy to build a winner there. Less scholarships than other Division One schools and less than ideal playing conditions (it’s cold in Ohio in the winter!!) make it a challenge to compete at a national level. Coach Nichols has embraced that challenge and his teams can compete with anyone in the country. That’s no coincidence. He recruits the right talent with the mindset he knows will fit the culture. He builds trust and connection and he has an environment where he can push his players to reach their potential. If you lead a team or are curious about the mindset of a top leader or coach, I believe you’ll enjoy this episode.

Listen to my conversation with Eric Nichols on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or on your favorite podcast platform.

Have a great rest of the week!



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