• Adam Tarnow

A Picture of Leadership

The Richardson High School men's basketball team is good. Really good.

Don't worry if you didn't know this. It's hard enough to keep up with your local pro teams, let alone local high school teams.

At the time of this writing, they are enjoying quite a run in the state tournament. As of day (March 8th), they are two wins away from a state title.

The picture above was taken by my friend Nate Steiner. It was taken after the team's regional quarterfinal win on March 2nd. Nate texted me this picture and said, "A lesson in leadership captured in a picture. Find Kevin and you will understand."

Kevin Lawson is the head coach. I've put an asterisk next to him on the photo below.

This instantly became one of my favorite pictures of leadership. Who am I kidding? I don't have a collection of leadership pictures, so this is the favorite.

To me, this picture illustrates “the window and the mirror" metaphor. I learned about this metaphor from Jim Collins in his book Good to Great. He uses this metaphor to describe what he calls "A Level Five Leader."

Here’s how the metaphor works. When things go well, a Level Five Leader looks out the window and celebrates the team. When things go poorly, a Level Five Leader looks in the mirror and asks, "what could I have done better?"

In the picture above, Kevin is looking through the window and celebrating his team. Kevin knows he wasn't the one who played the game.

Believe me, I've seen Kevin play basketball. If he had played, after the game he would be looking in the mirror asking, “what could I have done better?”

Don’t worry, Kevin is laughing at that last joke. I've had the pleasure of knowing Coach Lawson for five or six years now. Our oldest boys are in school together.

Kevin is the real deal. That was not a “photo op” for him. He embodies Level Five Leadership all the time, not just when his team is performing well. We would all do well to follow his example.

To that end, celebrate someone today. That's my challenge for you. Act like Coach Lawson. Find someone on your team, look through the window, and celebrate them for something they’ve done well.

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