Aaron Taylor: Leaders Aren’t Born, They’re Developed

Ball State Football defensive back, and digital sports production major, Aaron Taylor.

Written By: Aaron Taylor | @1flight37
Defensive Back | Ball State Football
Member of Ball State Sports Link

“Be a leader!”

Words I’ve heard all my life from coaches to parents to teachers.  However, no one really ever tells you how.

Well when I got to college I met one.

Travis Freeman, our starting middle linebacker at the time, embodied what it meant to be a true captain on the field.  He was a bulky senior weighing about 235 lbs.  He was a monster in the middle.

The first day all the freshmen came to campus to watch the older guys cap off their first session of summer conditioning and agility, he made it very clear who he was.

“I’m a vet!” Freeman yelled at us as.  We were all starstruck in the stands.

They were finishing up the last of their 110-yard runs and you could sense the charisma coming from the man. He went on to finish the season with the most career tackles in collegiate football (465), even eclipsing Notre Dame’s Heisman Trophy hopeful Manti Teo that year.  Freeman averaged 9.5 tackles per game — for his career!

There seems to be so much value in being a leader. Being a leader is not just telling a group of people what to do. Being a leader to me is having the courage to make tough decisions in seemingly dire situations.

You must control your own fears and emotions before presenting a plan to a larger group. The first principle of leadership according to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is knowing what you believe.

With a set standard of values to adhere to, you can make a decision to steer your team in the right direction. Being a leader, you have direct control over the group’s destiny.

In order to achieve a common goal, a team must be in perfect synchronization. Everyone must have a clear understanding of their role and execute that role to the best of their ability.

Coach Lembo preaches: “control what you can control”. This statement reminds everyone on the team to keep outside distractions to a minimum and focus on the task at hand.

Preparation and communication are key elements in executing a plan. The better prepared you are, the more confidence you will have presenting your plan. Communication is imperative — you must be able to deliver a clear and concise message.

Being a leader is all of these things, but none of it matters if you don’t genuinely care about the people you affect or the plan you’re trying to accomplish. You must consider others feelings and be able to take input from outside sources.

Your way is not always the best plan and other people may have solutions to problems that seemingly have no solution.


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