My wife and I have four young boys aged 9, 7, 5 and 3. This past summer they were outside in our front yard enjoying the weather when my 7 year old thought it would be a good idea to push his 3 year old brother in a wagon down our slanted driveway towards a busy road. As my wife turned around from working in the garage to see the situation unfolding, there was nothing she could do to help him as he was already helplessly on his way down the driveway. At this same time, my 5 year old who was riding his bike on the sidewalk near the base of the driveway saw this going on and started pedaling really hard so that he could try and help his little brother. Just as the wagon was about to reach the street where a car was coming, he was able to get himself and the bike in front of his brother just in time as the wagon slammed into him and knocked him off of his bike. As my wife ran to help both of them, my 5 year old, through his tears, explained that he was scared his brother would get hit by a car and that he did it because he loved him.
Besides the fact that this was very heroic and a great feel good story for his parents and definitely not indicative of the normal affection that is shown between those two, I learned a valuable lesson about love. The L-word is not something that you hear a lot of or enough of in college athletics, but I believe it is one of the most important attributes to effective leadership and creating great cultures especially among our small schools where we are all wearing so many different hats.
Michael Lee Stallard, a guru in company cultures gives 4 great reasons why love is so important to our cultures and I would add athletic departments.
- Love inspires performance excellence and resilience – He explains that serving others is a direct reflection of love and that effective leaders and coaches are able to inspire others by articulating to their employees how the work they do together is helping other people.
- Love pulls together – When love exists among a group or team they are more likely to pull together than to tear one another apart when things get difficult.
- Love overlooks minor offenses – When love is present in a team or department, people are more likely to assume the best in others and give them the benefit of the doubt.
- Love reduces stress – Toxic stress makes people feel fearful, timid or paralyzed. Love among the members of a team serves to reduce toxic stress so that people perform at the top of their game.
With family being one of the core values here at CWU, it makes sense for love to be an intricate part of all that we do from our teams, to our marketing department staff all the way to how we interact with our boosters and fans. So don’t be afraid this week to throw around the L-word and notice the impact it can have on you and those with whom you interact.
“A company is stronger if bound by love than by fear.” Herb Kelleher, cofounder of Southwest Airlines