When I think of leadership I’m brought back to my childhood and instantly think of learning how to play basketball. The game may have seemed simple, but each time you are passed the ball you have to dribble, pass, or shoot, with less than a second to decide. Of course when you play the game everyone wants to be a point guard and have the ball in their hands, much like most cannot wait to become bosses and be in charge of others. Something we forget, is that the point guard still has to walk on the same court and play the same game as their team, even if they get to make more decisions than others on the court. As young professionals it’s important that as our responsibilities increase and titles change that we don’t lose sight of being accountable to the team, the same as we always have been.
Since most of my team are returners they know a lot more about the culture, building, and people that we work with. So, if I’m now a point guard, I’m a rookie who’s been tasked to start for a veteran team. Saying “I don’t know” and pushing it up the ladder Is no longer the end of the road. I’ve always been a person that if I don’t know something, I will find out. Same goes for not knowing. Many find that being a supervisor necessitates knowing more than everyone else, but I just feel that my autonomy, vs. my team’s specific roles, allows me to actually go out and get the right answers.
Speaking of not having all the answers, there is no guidebook for game days. In this regard adhocracy is the best policy for when there’s a small team. My team has assigned roles as to who mans the elevators, who deals with the skybox, but things happen and flexibility to get the job done is the greatest skill I’ve learned to have. For example, at the home opener there were no shows for work, people got sick and had to leave, student workers were disgruntled, all making a nice spreadsheet of assigned duties all for not. Simply put coach can draw up a perfect play, but things fall apart and we have to be able to adjust.
If things fall apart anyway, then wouldn’t the easiest thing be as a point guard to simply try to score myself since the goal is just to score? Well, the easiest thing to do when you want something accomplished is to do it yourself, except when yourself has assigned responsibilities and you can’t drop them to go from task to task. Being a supervisor really forces you to evolve from these tendencies. Instead, one must take the hard role of giving clear and concise instructions to get others to achieve their intended outcomes. So sure it’s frustrating when others don’t accomplish their part, but for the first time I’ve had to think about whether or not I put them in a position to accomplish said goal in the first place.
When it comes to our first time being in charge of others, failure is inevitable, but we cannot let failure affect how we deal with our teams. As a supervisor there is no more “I’ll get my supervisor over” to fall back on. Acceptance of fault goes a long way in keeping ourselves and others accountable. It’s this accountability that we can’t just learn theory of, but have to experience first-hand to humble ourselves and keep us going from play to play. That said, there’s no real way to prepare for the first supervisor role other than to be willing to accept blame and be prepared to figure it out. These are the same pieces of advice I’ve been given from ADs on how to hold down the chair, so the core skills really start early.
Erick Taylor is an aspiring college sports professional and MPSA candidate attending Texas A&M University. Originally from the Greater Atlanta area, Erick received his bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University, where he also served as a development intern for the Panther athletic department. A young, relatively inexperienced prospect in this industry, Erick is in search of the tools and skills required for success. By sharing his journey, he hopes to help others achieve their professional goals as well.