A Successful Leader


Today, CrossChurchSchool.com welcomes guest writer, Christian Stone. Christian is a Resident Minister in the Cross Church School of Ministry serving in the Student Ministry, Pinnacle Hills Campus. He is from Garland, Texas and graduated from Ouachita Baptist University.

Leadership is one of the hottest talking points in our culture right now. Assuming you don’t live under a rock, you’ve seen what I’m talking about either in a blog, podcast, sermon, or a book. IT IS EVERYWHERE! I challenge you to count how many books on leadership there are the next time you go to any Barnes & Noble, Target or any store that sells books for that matter. I’d be willing to bet that there’s at least one, if not more available to purchase. Just on Google alone, if you were to search “what is leadership?” you would find over two billion responses at your disposal. The point I’m trying to drive home is that the topic of leadership is everywhere in today’s culture and with that comes all kinds of definitions. Just like everything else in my life, I will look through the lens of being an athlete to show what makes a leader successful.

In athletics, when speaking about leadership most people immediately think of the coach being the lone leader. While that is sometimes true, all successful teams not only have a coach that leads but at least one leader within the team that drives the team. Tom Brady, Derek Jeter, and the late Kobe Bryant are all prime examples of those team leaders. If you spend any time researching, you’ll learn what separates these three athletes is the time they put in practicing and their hunger for success at all costs. The first key of successful leadership is humbling yourself and putting others before yourself. These athletes did this by sacrificing all else and putting the best of the team above their own wants and desires. My favorite example of this comes from SB Nation and just shows how Kobe exemplified this during his life, it goes like this:

Kobe’s workouts usually got more intense in the off-season. An anonymous Team USA trainer told this story on reddit, which talks about Kobe’s commitment and how he was married to the game of basketball.

According to him, the trainer worked with Team USA in Vegas during the summer of 2012. The duo shared numbers, and he told Bryant to call him anytime if he wanted to do some conditioning work. He received a call from Kobe at 4:15 AM after a few days, asking him to come to the gym. He left his hotel room, and Kobe was already drenched in sweat, and it wasn’t even 5 AM in the morning.

They worked out for 45 minutes, and then the trainer went back to his hotel room to get some sleep before he gets back to the court at 11:00 AM again in the morning, while Kobe went back to his shooting practice. He met Kobe in the morning for scrimmage.

‘I woke up feeling sleepy, drowsy, and almost pretty much every side effect of sleep deprivation. Thanks, Kobe. I had a bagel and headed to the practice facility.’

‘This next part I remember very vividly. All the Team USA players were there, feeling good for the first scrimmage. LeBron was talking to Carmelo if I remember correctly, and Coach Krzyzewski was trying to explain something to Kevin Durant. On the right side of the practice facility was Kobe by himself shooting jumpers. And this is how our next conversation went — I went over to him, patted him on the back and said,

Trainer Rob: “Good work this morning.”‘
Kobe: “Huh?”
Rob: “Like, the conditioning. Good work.”
Kobe: “Oh. Yeah, thanks Rob. I really appreciate it.”
Rob: “So when did you finish?”
Kobe: “Finish what?”
Rob: “Getting your shots up. What time did you leave the facility?”
Kobe: “Oh just now. I wanted 800 makes so yeah, just now.”

The second key of successful leadership is having a vision, or goal of where you want to go and putting in the work to get there. Paul reiterates this in 1 Corinthians 9:26 when he writes, “Therefore, I don’t run like someone running aimlessly; I don’t fight like a boxer beating the air.” Paul is telling us that leaders need to have a goal or destination in mind so that we don’t just run around aimlessly and wander. In Kobe’s case it was to win for his country, and he, as a leader, would put in the extra work to give his team the best chance possible. That same work ethic carried over to all he did off the court, whether it was in his family, his business ventures, and his film career. Most people don’t know this but Bryant won both an Academy Award and an Emmy for his production film, Dear Basketball in 2018.

The last key of a successful leader is knowing your team and putting themselves in the best possible spot to succeed. I love what Bill Bradley, a former Knicks basketball player, says on this, “Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.” You can only unlock other’s potential by knowing them, knowing what they’re good at and bad at and placing them in an environment for success. Once this comes together and each member is in their best respective roles, success will follow.

Let me just put a disclaimer on this post, I am no Vince Lombardi or Phil Jackson. I do not have any Super Bowl rings, I’ve never hoisted the Stanley Cup above my head, nothing like that at all (unless you count an 8th grade flag football championship trophy I won). However, I have been an athlete for almost nineteen years now. I’ve had teammates and coaches that were phenomenal leaders, and some that were just plain awful. I’ve been on teams where I was a leader and then I’ve been on teams where I’ve been led, what I’m trying to say is that I’ve been surrounded by sports my entire life and through that I believe these keys are important to be a successful leader.

“22 Beautiful Quotes On Management And Leadership.” GeckoandFly, 7 June 2019, https://www.geckoandfly.com/14734/18-inspirational-motivational-quotes-management-leadership/.

Turlapaty, Kaushik. “6 Stories That Prove There Will Never Be Another Kobe Bryant.” Sports News, Sportskeeda, 23 Nov. 2018, https://www.sportskeeda.com/basketball/5-stories-that-prove-that-there-will-never-be-another-kobe-bryant.