Thursday, October 8, 2009

Leadership - Not just something to wear on your sleeve

"A leader is someone who stands up for justice and doesn't block it's path."
~ Dr. Richard Lapchick

When I first arrived at UCF, one of the first things that my classmates and I received was a black DeVos Program polo and the first time that I wore this polo, I noticed that it said something on the sleeve -

Ethics. Diversity. Leadership. Community.

I have heard before of people who wore their hearts on their sleeves but never before had I worn a goal or mission statement on my sleeve; but that's exactly what I am doing when I wear that polo; I am making it known that I value the same ideals that this program values. In past weeks I have talked about Anucha Browne-Sanders and her ethics, my class and our diversity, and the community that exists within the DeVos Program as well as the communities that we seek to improve. And while again and again, my class has been exposed to great leaders, I just want to talk about what I have learned about leadership in the past week.

Last week, the DeVos Program had the privilege to host Stan Van Gundy, head coach of the NBA's Orlando Magic, in our Distinguished Speaker Series. For a long time, Stan Van Gundy has served as a great leader to the players he has coached on all levels and the past few years, he has served as a great leader in professional sports.

I greatly enjoyed getting to listen to Stan Van Gundy speak and getting to speak with him afterwards. It was refreshing to listen to someone who was so honest about the sports industry. Van Gundy has been a leader his whole life and the thing that he said that really stuck with me was,

"If you're gonna be a leader, you set the values you are looking for ... when you're leaders - you have that same responsibility."

What Stan Van Gundy understands about leadership is that leadership is not simply some title or "being in charge". Leadership is standing up for your values, making sure the right thing is done, and being a positive influence in the lives of those around you. I started with a definition for leadership that our director, Dr. Lapchick, always gives for leadership and I truly believe that Stan Van Gundy fully personifies those aspects. I believe that by any definiton, Coach Van Gundy is a great leader.

Coach Van Gundy also talked to our class about strength, tenacity, and the importance of always choosing responsibility over money when searching for a job. He told us, "never confuse fame and notoriety with importance" and made us understand that a title or people knowing you is never what makes you a leader. Strength is what makes you a leader. The strength to stand up for justice. The strength to never block it's path.

By any definition, Stan Van Gundy is a leader and I feel privileged to have met someone who exemplifies the goals and ideals of leadership that this great program sets forth.

"In anything you do, you're going to be a leader; if you're going to be a leader you have to have a vision and set the course."
~ Coach Stan Van Gundy

Have a great weekend everyone!
~ Devan

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