I‘m sitting here this morning, drinking an ice cold Dr. Pepper, and watching “Remember the Titans” on my laptop. Two of the featured characters are having a heated argument over attitude and leadership. Gary accuses Julius of having the “worst attitude I ever heard,” Julius responds with “Attitude reflects leadership, Captain. …
To me, the above statement pretty much sums up the general basis for leadership. There’s been a lot written and said recently about leaders having to inspire people to be the best they can be, to inspire people to do things they didn’t think were remotely possible, and to achieve their own personal and team goals. Good leaders have the ability to set the tone and atmosphere for an entire organization. Leaders who aren’t careful can create a destructive atmosphere and a dangerous organizational culture.
You constantly here coaches & players complaining about “bad attitudes” of their team members, and team members complain about a lack of leadership – direction. However, my personal belief – feelings are that leadership starts from within the leader and the standards that the leader sets for themselves along with the team. Like anything, the attitude of the team is a direct reflection of the attitude of its leader, and the standards by which the leader holds themselves to.
The greatest leaders in the world have held themselves personally to a standard higher than anybody else could hold them to. They inspire people by setting their own standards, their own goals, and not settling for mediocrity.
A mediocre team is a reflection of mediocre leadership, and that mediocre leadership is a reflection of the standards and expectations the leader places on themselves. In the most simplistic version of this, if the leader is always late for meetings, and arrives disheveled and disorganized, you can almost guarantee that the team knows it’s OK to turn up disorganized and always late.
Looking at the Buccaneers last three head coaches: Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden and the teams’ current head coach, Raheem Morris, all three have had a distinct and profound style of leadership. Dungy was a calming father figure who appeared to never get rattled. Gruden was a high strung grinder who would ignite into explicit tirade laced explosions at a seconds notice while outwardly expressing his dissatisfaction in his facial expressions. Morris like Gruden appears to be high strung and overly excitable. Judging by the comments last week from Morris, about the intensity and execution levels in practices and knowing you play the way you practice. It could be argued that Morris seemed bewildered and unprepared to the point it was uninspiring to his players.
Evident by the aforementioned conversation with Charlie Campbell and Scott Reynolds of PewterReport.com, Morris revealed that the practice habits under his guidance during his first year as the Bucs head coach, didn’t exactly live up to the standards set by previous players and coaches.
“The thing we talked about was our practice habits. They slipped a little bit as far as what we were used to and what we were accustomed to,” said Morris. “We got our new coaches that have come back into the building that bring those things up. We had [defensive backs coach] Jimmy Lake establish that the other day, talking about practice habits and preparation in terms of how these guys run to the football. It showed this week. He gave clear, evident examples of how it shows up and how it helps.
“Timing and precision. It’s just mixing the new guys in the building and the new guys from last year, and mixing them with some of the older guys that we have in the building. It’s timing and precision with Josh [Freeman] at quarterback and receivers. It’s the linemen and their communication as far as protections. On defense you want them to fly around and establish their identity.”
“It’s not that it slipped last year, but you go back and turn on the tape and go back to 2007,” Morris said. “You have to evaluate yourself. If you don’t evaluate yourself, then you are in the wrong profession. You have to look at everything.
“You go upstairs and you watch tape and how you practiced in ’07 when we were good, and in ’05. You watch some ’02 stuff and some stuff of [defensive tackle Warren] Sapp clips and how practiced and how he worked. That’s the example of what it’s supposed to look like. Then you go find the worst thing you can possibly find of those guys from the year before and you put it all together. Then it’s a clear, evident message of what it looks like and what you want it to look like and how you become the best. I don’t know if they slipped completely. I wouldn’t say that. But in order to get better, in order to be better and have that hunger and commitment that we want we have to practice better. We want to re-establish our practice habits.”
The fact that Morris had to splice tape together of former Buccaneer greats too point out what he expected the intensity and execution level should be, is a clear indication that the veterans on the team last year lacked leadership qualities. With veterans littered throughout every level of the team one would have thought they would have demanded more from the young players. But as mentioned earlier attitude reflects leadership and if Morris didn’t demand or command better practices, then how in the world did he expect the leaders under him to do so? Lets not forget that typically the way a team practices is a good indicator of how they will play during games.
However, even after the debacle that led the Bucs to a 3-13 record in ‘09 there is some good that has come out of all of it. One leader has emerged. Josh Freeman is a shining example of what you want in a leader. He embodies the characteristics of someone on the verge of becoming a true leader. The fact he is a hard working grinder that inspires others and has gained the respect of his peers through his actions rather then empty words is a huge positive heading into the 2010 season.