Kenneth Ray Carter is the education activist, businessperson, and former basketball coach who inspired the 2005 hit movie Coach Carter starring Samuel L. Jackson. He remains an inspiration to many thanks to his impressive set of leadership skills and willingness to help others. If you are curious what the elements of Coach Carter’s leadership are to help your own leadership efforts, review what Carter himself would want you to know below.
Pushing People Out of Their Comfort Zones
Too often, people get comfortable and unwittingly stay in the same rut for weeks, months, and even years. Getting out of your comfort zone is key to exploring new possibilities and trying new things, which can result in creative endeavors you never thought of before. Getting out of this too-familiar zone also inspires hard work, such as practicing seminar speaking in front of a mirror over and over until you feel comfortable enough to talk in public. Remember, growth means change, not staying in the same “zone” forever.
Leadership is Not About Popularity
If you have seen the Coach Carter film, you know that this legendary coach was not immediately popular with his players. He made them study hard to earn their spots on the team, causing everyone to grumble and complain. Yet, Carter did not care whether he was well-liked by his team, as his goal was to make them better players…and people. As the team got used to his coaching style and understood that he only wanted what was best for them, they came around and respected the man for what he pushed them to do and be.
Setting the Tone Immediately is Key
Since being popular was insignificant to Carter, he let his players know what he expected from them at the first practice. Players who did not want to cooperate with the new regimen were dismissed, which showed the other players that Carter meant what he said and was not about to deal with people whose hearts were not in the game. If he had let the unenthusiastic, uncooperative players talk back to him and stay on the team, it would have been challenging to establish authority and gain respect.
Being a Good Example
Carter didn’t just talk about being committed to school. He was an example of what a good education can do for you, having attended San Francisco State, Contra Costa College, and George Fox University. The latter school is where he played basketball and gained a love for the sport. His commitment to his studies was something he imparted to his players, as they had to maintain a certain grade point average to keep playing. His good example showed the team what can happen if you follow through with your education, which included establishing the Impact Academy in a rural Texas town in 2009. Students attend class in conjunction with practicing other disciplines that build character, such as working at the onsite barbershop and store.
Standing Alone When Necessary
When asking what the elements of Coach Carter’s leadership are, standing alone ranks high. His academic policies didn’t just make him unpopular with the players, it also resulted in complaints from their parents. Carter stood firm with his policy, which almost made him quit coaching because he did not want to give up his convictions. However, the players rallied and put his lessons into practice (and games). They improved their grades before resuming basketball, which showed that Carter’s determination and values made an impact.
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