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Practicing Leadership: 3 Ways to Encourage Up-and-Coming Leaders

leadership Aug 26, 2019
This is what leadership looks like. We see it on the field of play with our favorite teams and players. Those same actions and mindsets should be part of the way we approach leadership in our work environment. Just take a look…

Russell Wilson isn’t fighting for a spot on the Seahawks roster. He’s already the starting quarter and a team leader. He doesn’t need pre-season football – but several of his teammates do. They need the preseason experience to prove their value and be seen as a contributor in the organization.

That’s the reason Russell told members of the broadcast team (including me) he feels a sense of responsibility to give guys a chance and help them be their best. Borrow his approach when you’ve identified an up-and-coming leader who isn’t ready for a promotion but shows potential.

3 Ways to encourage up-and-coming leaders

Be intentional about giving unproven talent attention. For Russell that means, looking in the direction of an unproven guy to see if he can get open instead of automatically going to the guy he’s most familiar with, Tyler Lockett.

For you, that could mean asking your “second choice” to spearhead part of a project instead of leaning on you go-to who you already know can do the job.


Catch them doing something great – even when they don’t think anyone is watching. Russell finds ways to call guys out in a position manner when they execute their assignment but have nothing to show for it in the box score (i.e. no reception, no yards, no touchdown.)

Your action: Be on the lookout for little wins and call them out. They’ll be hidden in the unsexy part of the process like asking a great question during a meeting or showing up with a good idea even if it doesn’t get implemented.


Offer feedback to make them better. Russell makes a point of coaching up teammates when better effort of more focus is needed. Rookies or newcomers can’t raise their standards if they don’t know what those standards are.

Your Action: Don’t be afraid to ask for more when you know that’s what the job requires. Be discerning in the words you use but know that up-and-coming leaders won’t be able to address shortcomings if they don’t know what they are.

Up-and-coming leaders can’t raise their standards if they don’t know what those standards are.

Be willing to develop your next wave of leaders. The strength of your organization depends on it and your status as a leader requires it.

Practicing Leadership with a Sports Twist – Create space for others to step up.

Seahawks defensive coach Ken Norton could see the leadership potential in defensive tackle Poona Ford. He just couldn’t hear it. So he created the space for Poona to step up. On more than one occasion Norton has quieted the defensive meeting room, turned to Poona and asked him to speak. That encouragement (and quiet) is all it takes for the second-year player to share his thoughts, wisdom and insight – all of which are appreciated by his teammates.


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