Leaders do more than express their point through words. Anyone can stand in front of a group of people and tell them not only what to do, but how they will do it and when it will be done, but not just anyone can lead effectively. To be a leader, you must not only live and breathe your “why,” but you must also convey it in the appropriate manner. To obtain buy-in and have a followership filled with passionate individuals striving for the same goal, a leader must show his followers the path leading to a unified goal.
Buzz Williams, the Virginia Tech Men’s Basketball coach, did a perfect example of this when he explained to his players, “We didn’t earn those chairs” (Kessel, 2016). Williams saw a problem within his followers that he did not approve and wanted to make a change. The Virginia Tech Men’s Basketball Team did not fully grasp the meaning of “The Star Spangled Banner.” With so much controversy over the anthem, Williams thought it was imperative to his program to discuss the symbolism of the song. This song was more than musical entertainment at a basketball game. It was more than the prerequisite to a tip off, and it was more than a moment for the men to stand together with eyes on them. In contrast, the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner” was a moment where all eyes and focus was on the American flag. A symbolism for freedom and unity. It was a gesture of respect for the men and women who risk their lives so, as Williams expressed, people could sit in “…those chairs.”
Williams further separated himself from average leaders when he took his actions even further. To be a great leader, one must empower. They must instill in their followers the common goal and develop buy-in. Williams did this by bringing in veterans. To show your followers your “why” is one of the best ways to create a united front. Williams portrays this very well by allowing his players to see first hand why this song is more than just music played before a basketball game. He created a moment that will never be forgotten. Williams not only created followers, but he created future leaders. Isn’t that the ultimate goal? To create a vision so strong that even without the leader, the culture lives on.
Williams did what all great leaders do. He inspired, empowered, and led by example. This moment among the basketball team and the honored veterans was more than a coach fixing a problem. This moment was a life-changing experience for all involved. We are all capable of making change, but the most effective change is done hand-in-hand with a shared vision fostered by the leader.
Kessel, Allie (2016). “Virginia Tech Men’s Basketball Coach Teaches Team a Lesson with Help of Veterans.” http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/virginia-tech-mens-basketball-coach-teaches-team-lesson/story?id=37521941