“Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory…lasts forever. “ – Shane Falco (The Replacements, 2000)
For those of you who have never seen The Replacements, Shane Falco (played by Keanu Reeves) is a former college quarterback whose last time on the football field resulted in a blown championship game. Falco is given a second chance when a NFL strike forces owners to bring in replacement players to finish the season. While the movie is forgettable, a speech delivered in the huddle speaks to both Falco’s ability to connect with his team as well as gives us a great maxim for leaders to live by: “pain heals, teams dig scars and accomplishment lasts forever.”
One of the principles we teach leaders in our Coaching CampTM is to “walk the talk.” How each leader lives this principle may be different, but at it its core, walking the talk is about getting your hands dirty, taking risks, and demonstrating respect for your team through your actions rather than your words. Teams respect leaders who have spent time in the trenches and earned their stripes through hard work, determination and internal fortitude. Contrary to what most “career leaders” believe, teams can tell in the first 15 minutes if you have “street cred.” And while every team I have met longs to be led by someone they can trust, a team will only give you their trust if you demonstrate you are worthy of it through your actions.
Remember, “being a great leader is more about who you are than what you do, but teams look at what you do to determine who you are.” To engage your team and connect them to your vision of the future, spend less time talking about improving processes and more time improving processes. Work shoulder to shoulder with your team, making mistakes and getting scars of your own and resist the urge to make continuous improvement an intellectual exercise. Not only will you develop a great base of experiences from which to pull, but your team will become a tighter, more cohesive unit that looks to your actions as a barometer of success.