Green River Star -

By Lu Sweet
Western Wyoming Community College 

Lifelong Learning: Bringing successful leadership


I read an article in the Athletic Business magazine, from April 2017, entitled, “Commonsense tips for Successful Leadership” by Don Schumacher. Schumacher is the recently retired Executive Director of the National Association of Sports Commissions. He feels that one of the reasons he was successful in his last position and in other leadership positions he held was due in large to the use of common sense.

In fact, he says that one of the most useful books he read, that helped him with a common sense approach, was the book, “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulgrum. Schumacher points out that the one maxim from that book that stands out the most to him, is “when you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.” He says this maxim reminds people of the importance of teamwork and facing problems and opportunities together. He then goes on to list seven common sense tips of his own, based on his own experience, that have helped him become a successful leader. I share them with you now.

First, Schumacher says, that becoming a leader takes preparation. While this seems like a ‘no-brainer’, he is right on. This skill of knowing what steps are needed to accomplish certain tasks and demonstrating a willingness to go beyond your job to research and find answers when needed is imperative. I know I am usually much more successful with tasks if I plan them out and think through the steps needed to accomplish them, ahead of time, rather than just jumping into a task with no forethought.

Next, Schumacher reminds us that you only get to meet someone for the first time ONCE. Powerful words. First impressions can definitely define relationships, with new employees, new clients, peers and colleagues. First moments should count for everyone, all the time.

Third, Schumacher says it’s not only important to hire strong people, and train them but it’s most important to empower them – to let them do their job, to show them you trust them and to celebrate their efforts and accomplishments.

This not only helps with ‘letting people do the job they were hired to do’, but also with balancing your own life.

It’s important not to micromanage. There are many different ways or approaches to getting something done and you need to feel confident enough in your employees as well as in yourself to let others take charge sometimes.

Fourth, Schumacher says to make clear your expectations. Job descriptions are important just like documenting conversations, but perspectives can still differ. It’s important to make sure everyone heard the same message, but then let them go figure out the best way for them to approach the problem, even if it’s different than your way. Restating a problem and not jumping to conclusions are helpful strategies at work and at home.

Next, Schumacher advises that people make lists and then add and subtract every day. It helps you know what needs to be accomplished and by when, but it also helps you feel good about how much you are getting done, or see things on your list that you need help with, or are better to delegate to someone else. I am a big list person and even though there are days when I wish I had gotten more done, it truly does help me re-evaluate how I’m doing and how I might proceed.

Sixth, Schumacher says it is important to remember to have a written strategic plan. “Visions and missions and goals, action plans and success measures”…what it comes down to is knowing what to do to accomplish each goal. With work life as well as personal life, having an end goal or desired outcome can definitely help keep you focused.

It’s also important to have short term and long term goals, daily goals, personal goals, professional goals-all are very important.

Finally, Schumacher says it’s important to have patience. He says staff need room to make their own way without someone over their shoulder.

If they aren’t getting things done by certain deadlines, then conversations, nudges and reminders need to occur, but they need to feel confident in doing their job and that you have confidence in them.

I would add it’s also important to have patience with friends and family and with yourself. Sometimes we really can be our own worst enemies and hardest on ourselves.

This article was a great reminder for me with my work, and for my home/personal life as well. My children are their own people. They are not mini versions of me. We as parents should not expect them to be copies of ourselves.

They need to be independent thinkers and doers. Please take a moment and re-read this article with your children, your spouse, your family and friends in mind, instead of just as these steps/hints pertain to work.

Common sense seems like a no-brainer, but it really can be the difference between a successful outcome and a failed attempt.


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