A Lesson in Leadership: Kevin Ware

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His injury was sudden and unexpected. A fluke. Thankfully, the network did not replay the injury multiple times, but focused their cameras on the other players’ reactions. Disbelief and raw tears spilled onto the court. My heart sank as I watched the Louisville and Duke players’ and coaches’ grief-stricken faces. Kevin Ware’s injury was gruesome. Kevin Ware’s response was leadership in action.

Over the past couple of days, my boys and I have been mesmerized by the reports of his recovery and have discussed how he’s handling it with courage and grace. Here are a few takeaways that any leader can use to better themself:

Putting the team before his own needs. Before being transferred to the stretcher, Ware asked for his Louisville teammates to gather around, urging them to win the Midwest Region crown in his absence. Despite the excruciating pain, the 20 year-old had the wherewithal to put the team before his needs.

Don’t look back. Ware insists that he will not look at the replay of the injury and is focusing his energies on his recovery. Over the years, I’ve been in countless meetings where leaders waste time and energy rehashing mistakes. To move forward, you can’t look back.

Be humble. Ware has commented that the way he handled the situation was “… just my character. Getting all this attention is not me but I greatly appreciate it.” His unassuming manner, coupled with his physical strength, talent and determination sets him apart.

Most often, we hire an employee with a specific skill set; but the reality is that their experiences, personalities and culture have a significant impact on their performance. How do you assess leadership or other “soft skills” when hiring? What do you value more- 10 years of industry experience or fearlessness?

Thank you Kevin Ware for being a model of courage and leadership in action.

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