Photo: BYU Photo

I recently had the opportunity to attend the BYU Management Society’s Moral & Ethical Leadership Conference. This was my first year and I didn’t quite know what to expect but I can assure you I won’t be missing it in the future.

On the agenda was BYU’s Athletic Director, Tom Holmoe. He shared stories and perspectives about mentors, coaches, and leaders who had inspired him as an individual to be better (I’ve got to get him on the podcast).

It was no surprise to hear him talk about the influence that LaVell Edwards (BYU Head Football Coach 1972-2000) was in his life. But more specifically Tom Holmoe explained the relationship that Coach Edwards had with one of his more famous former players, Kansas City Chief head coach, Andy Reid.

Soon after Andy Reid graduated, Coach Edwards invited him to continue his schooling at BYU and become a graduate assistant football coach. From there Coach Edwards was able to line up Andy Reid’s first full-time coaching spot at San Francisco State. Andy Reid has had an incredibly successful coaching career in the NFL. He is the longest-tenured coach with the Philadelphia Eagles (with a Super Bowl appearance) and now coaches the Kansas City Chiefs.

Since that first coaching job in 1983 up until Coach Edward’s death in December of 2016, Coach Edwards called Andy Reid every. single. week. They discussed everything from life goals, to family relations, and of course, the next football game.

Leadership IS Relationships

Hearing about this interaction between coaches over such a long period of time caused me to reflect on my own leadership style.

Quite frankly, it’s easy to build relationships and lead people when you are the set-apart local bishop. You get to see those you lead every week. You can walk down a few pews and shake hands with a smile and maybe even take a few minutes with individuals and ask them how their life is going. It’s easy to see their life might be under stress when you notice they aren’t at church one week or when you are in their home for your once a month visit that your priesthood leader has begged you to complete.

True leadership and relationships are defined after your release from an official leadership role. Coach Edwards was a master leader because he was a sincere leader who really did care about those he officially led years before.

Hearing of this story, I couldn’t help but quickly make a list of those individuals I had “officially” led before who probably still need my influence; not because I am their bishop and am supposed to check up on them, but because I have dedicated my life to being a leader who extends my influence again and again.

President Monson Exemplifies Leadership by Relationships

President Monson is another inspiring example of lifelong, individual leadership.

We’ve all heard stories of how he extended friendship and love to the 85 widows whom he served as bishop in the Sixth-Seventh Ward. He would spend a week each Christmas season to visit each widow and bring them a gift. This tradition lasted well past his time as bishop and continued until each widow passed away. This is the core of Christ-like leadership.

So, think of your time when you had great influence through an official leadership calling. Or consider those you serve right now. How can you create relationships and interactions that are not defined by your calling but are blessed through your life-long influence?

Go pick up the phone and see how they are doing.

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