How To Become A Leader On and Off The Court

Photo Courtesy of Marianne Bevis

Much has been written about the makeup of a leader. The obvious answers could be toughness, intelligence and hard worker. I recently came across an article on Anthony Rizzo, the first baseman for the Chicago Cubs. While reading the article I was amazed at what this 26-year-old professional baseball player has experienced in his young life. His bout with Hodgkin's lymphoma in April 2008 helped shape him into who he is today. In this tip I share my thoughts on leadership and how we can learn from a professional player who I feel displays what a leader looks like today.

When I typed "what makes a leader" in Google the first link that popped up was one from the Harvard Business Review on "What Makes A Leader." It's only a partial article but the little I read was fascinating. Here is a link to the executive article The article points to toughness, vision, and intelligence as important to success but the traits that fall under the "soft skills" may be the true keys to a person's success.

Back to Rizzo. His coaches and teammates comment Rizzo never takes a play off. Whether it’s running the bases, chasing down a fly ball or running wind sprints, Rizzo is at 100% effort. He takes no plays off. This is often the case with the great ones; Federer, Djokovic, Ronaldo, Spieth, they all have a persistent work ethic and 100% effort mindset. But what I read about Rizzo is he also possesses the soft skills or or what some are starting to categorize as emotional intelligence skills that allow him to relate so well to people. That's why his teammates, coaches and fans love him. The following are two emotional skills he shares with the great ones.

1. Empathy - the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Anthony is well connected with his teammates, coaches and the City of Chicago. He often picks up the tab at a local eatery, organizes team dinners with the players and their families, and invites a player over when he knows they do not have family in the vicinity. Being a cancer survivor, with the help of his wife, Rizzo created a foundation that helps fund cancer research.

2. Motivation - the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.

We all have different reasons why we choose to do something. By what are you motivated? For some it could be money. For others it could be to prove someone wrong. Maybe you want to be the best you can be. Whatever the reason, the great ones usually have some type of motivation to succeed. Michael Phelps, possibly the most decorated athlete in U.S. Olympic history, is driven by naysayers. He's had several in his lifetime. That's what motivates him.

Parents, when looking at what makes a leader, whether it's in regards to you or your child, think about these soft skills, your child's emotional intelligence when approaching their tennis development. How can you not only develop your soft skills but help your child develop hers? You may not be able to start a foundation but you could begin by donating your time or helping a lending hand!

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