Warde Manuel’s Leadership Lessons

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In over 20 years that I have hosted great leaders at the Leaders Connect Breakfast Series, Warde Manuel’s discussion about leadership was one of the best. Following a glowing introduction from his former coach, Lloyd Carr, Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manual shared with the 90 guests many great stories and gave sound and timely advice about how to lead. These lessons not only apply to the 900 young athletes and 370 employees he is responsible for at the University of Michigan, but were extremely valuable for all people who have to lead in today’s fast changing, high-pressured work environment. Here are some of the highlights from Warde’s presentation.  If you want to see the complete presentation, click on the link below.

https://youtu.be/qtGwtMpD-A8

  1. In a leadership role there is high visibility.  A leader has to be confident and secure enough to gracefully handle the pressure and the criticism which can come at any time.
  2. To become a great leader, you have to learn from those who came before you (here Warde cites Lloyd Carr as one of his great role models).
  3. Leadership means doing your best every day.
  4. Leadership means creating an environment for others to succeed.
  5. Leadership means having the passion and desire to make a difference with the people you are working with. “With student athletes, you never know when that might happen. Sometimes they may not recognize it for several years, after they have launched their careers.”
  6. When you make an impact on young people which brings out the best in them, it’s going to help them for the rest of their lives.
  7. As a leader, you have to realize that everyone has issues that they are dealing with on a daily basis.
  8. You have to be cautious about talking too much about your problems.  “Lou Holtz says that if you share your problems, 80% of the people don’t really care…and the other 20% are glad you have them.”
  9. Five things Warde Manuel expects from student athletes: First, compete in the classroom.  “I want them to know that sports will end at some point and that they need to be prepared to have a career in whatever field they choose.” Second, drive success and win championships.  Third, grow as young people.  “Go out in the world and use athletics to help develop the skills they need to go out and be successful.”  Fourth, do all that within the rules.  And fifth, have fun.
  10. In leadership, start with people first. The most important thing is to choose the right people to work on your team.
  11. Cultivate an attitude among leaders that it’s not “about me”. It should never be about one person alone.  It’s about the team. “For example, when you make a sack, you turn to your teammates for thanks for their contribution. When you come off the field, you thank your coach for teaching you the plays and the discipline.”
  12. Leadership is about stepping up and taking leadership without having to say “I am the leader”. If you have to say “this is my company…I am the boss,” you probably have already lost your people.
  13. You have to pick kids to become your athletes based on their character as well as on their athletic ability.
  14. In hiring: ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to the response.  Trust that little person inside your head who tells you whether or not you’re hiring the right person for the right reasons.
  15. For your team, choose people with different points of view than your own. “I don’t need 10 people who think the same way as I do. I want to know what people see and think and where they see holes in my thinking.”
  16. Don’t manage people to follow your style. Let people be who they are.
  17. “I have learned from the role model of Coach Lloyd Carr, who cares more about students as people than anyone I have ever met.”
  18. The fastest way to lose your job at Michigan is to violate the rules. “At Michigan we want to win because we’re better, not because we were doing things outside of the rules.”

To see the full presentation, click on the link below.

https://youtu.be/qtGwtMpD-A8

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