10 Leadership Lessons from the Colgate Leadership Academy

by Greg Shelley, Ph.D., Director of the Colgate Leadership Academy

The Colgate Leadership Academy creates a culture of leadership for Emerging, Veteran, and 360 Leaders to develop and refine leadership skills in and out of sport. 

In the final workshop of the year, all Academy participants were asked to summarize what “stood out” in terms of lessons learned from the Academy.  The following 10 Leadership Lessons represent the common themes that emerged.  Here is what the Colgate leaders had to say.

1. Someone is always watching . . . you better set a good example.  

As one 360 leader stated, “There better be quality in everything I do because someone is always watching . . . it’s my responsibility to ‘set the tone’ every single day.  If I don’t do it, it might not happen."  This is why our Leadership Academy starts with developing and promoting leadership by example and the leader skills of commitment, confidence, character, and composure.  Good leadership begins with setting a good example.

2. Leadership is a “full-time” gig. 

As one veteran leader said, “You cannot check in and check out when leading.  It’s a full-time job!  You have to lead all the time."  Leadership is about creating a lifestyle where good leadership is pervasive across all areas of one’s life (i.e., school, sport, relationships, etc.).  Leaders need to be consistent and display good leadership all the time, regardless of the situation.   

3. Get out of your comfort zone. 

Leaders must get comfortable being uncomfortable.  Good leaders push others when they don’t want to be pushed, deal with conflict and make decisions that are not popular, and set a climate of hard work and commitment that often makes others mad.  Leaders can’t be everyone’s friend.  Good leadership is hard, sometimes uncomfortable, and not always fun.  Get used to it.

4. Holding teammates accountable is a must but timing is everything. 

Holding teammates accountable is extremely important but “how” and “when” a leader chooses to enforce a rule or standard is more important.  Nearly all Leadership Academy members agreed that how something is communicated (i.e., with respect, clarity, and purpose) and when it is stated (i.e., in a group setting or one-on-one) is critical to effectively holding teammates accountable.  Leaders must be willing to enforce a standard . . . but they better pick the right time and place to do so.


For six more lessons from the Colgate Leadership Academy, our Championship Coaches Network members can click here.


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