On September 22, 2012, a moment took place at a Canadian Football League game that provided a textbook leadership lesson.
And it had nothing to do with the game itself.
It took place in the locker room of the British Columbia Lions moments after their game against the Edmonton Eskimos.
In the late stages of the game the Lions had found themselves trailing 18-16 and were forced to attempt a 47 yard field goal.
Veteran kicker Paul McCallum trotted out onto the field and calmly kicked the ball through the uprights with one minute left on the clock. Final score; BC 19, Edmonton 18.
Later, in the expected pandemonium of the Lions’ locker room, the Vancouver Sun reports that McCallum called for silence and gave a lesson in leadership I’ll long remember.
Rather than basking in his teammates’ adulation for his heroic kick, McCallum apologized to them, and told them he needs to be better.
In the stunned silence McCallum, the special teams’ captain, reminded them that the reason the team was forced into a late come-from-behind field goal, was that he had missed two earlier attempts; from closer range.
Lions’ head coach Mike Benevides later talked to reporters about the leadership his kicker had displayed.
“There’s no denial in him,” Benevides said. “When a man stands in front of his peers and says that, that goes a long way.”
Specifically, what McCallum demonstrated were at least three vital leadership truths.
1. Authentic humility engenders greater loyalty than competence alone
McCallum’s teammates already knew he was a great kicker. This episode reminded them that he was also a great leader worth following.
2. Authentic humility is needed for self-improvement
Before you can improve as a leader you need to recognize your short-comings. Humility allows you to look beyond your successes to also see your growth areas.
3. Authentic humility provides tremendous credibility
Imagine if, during an upcoming game, McCallum needed to challenge a teammate to play better. Only by having acknowledged his own need to improve would he have the credibility to issue such a challenge.
So if you want to enjoy you current level of leadership, by all means embrace your successes.
But if you want to grow as a leader embrace your short comings.
All it takes is a dose of humility.
What would you add to this list?