If you’re running a football team, Benjamin Watson is the type of guy you want in your locker room.
The 37-year-old tight end has always been viewed as a positive, stabilizing force who can elevate the culture inside an organization. It’s one reason the New Orleans Saints had no qualms signing Watson for the 2018 season despite his status as one of the oldest active players in the NFL.
When speaking with Watson on the topic of leadership, he stressed that it isn’t necessarily about epic pump-up speeches or highlight-reel plays, but more so the accumulation of doing the little things right day after day, year after year.
“It’s about being accountable. Men respond when they see others guy that are accountable, that they can rely on. Obviously performance on the field is a part of it, but also, leadership is how you connect to other people. How you treat other people. There are guys who are fabulous football players on the field, but their teammates may not call them leaders because they can’t hold a conversation with them, they may be arrogant, they may be hard to approach, they may not seem to care about others outside of themselves. Then there might be a guy who’s not the best football player, but people think he’s a great leader because of how he goes about his business, his professionalism, they see the things that come out of his mouth and he walks the walk,” said Watson, who was a team captain for the Saints in 2015. “Your leadership will emerge as you live a life of integrity and a life of responsibility and a life of perseverance that’s dedicated not only to yourself, but other people.”
Want to be viewed as a leader on your team? Show up on time. Don’t skip reps. Motivate your teammates. Know your playbook. Build relationships. Earn trust. Play hard. You’re only a leader if your teammates and coaches view you as such, and these are the habits that earn that respect. No athlete ever became a team leader overnight.
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