LaxCon 2018 Kicks Off Season With a Focus on Developing Leadership at all Levels - LeagueApps Blog
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LaxCon 2018 Kicks Off Season With a Focus on Developing Leadership at all Levels

Professional development and individual leadership growth was a major focus.

Over 7,100 participants and 200 plus speakers convened at the Baltimore Convention Center, making this the largest LaxCon yet.  This year’s event focused heavily on developing leadership throughout the entire program, from athlete to coach to director.

Here are some ways to develop leadership in all of those groups.

Program Directors and Positive Leadership

The event’s keynote speaker did not disappoint. Using his enigmatic smile, sense of humor, and short personal stories, keynote speaker and author Jon Gordon set the tone for LaxCon with his speech on the power of positive leadership.

“Always stay optimistic and positive, it’s contagious,” he said. “Optimism will fuel your journey to reach your vision.”

Jon shared his personal journey. He almost quit lacrosse in high school but his coach convinced him to stay positive.

“I didn’t even know what an Ivy League school was at the time,” Jon admitted. He went on to play for Cornell and attributes his success as a New York Times best-selling author to his time playing lacrosse.

His speech echoed themes around vision, mission, and love. Leaders should trust the process, remain optimistic, and results will follow. Ignore the fear of failure and be gritty.

“Grit drives us. But what drives grit?” he asked. “Your vision and mission drive grit. Your love of what you’re doing is greater than the fear of failing.”

His positivity was contagious. Jon also left the audience with some homework to start getting in the right mindset:  “Put a positive spin on the next situation that presents itself that may not be positive.”

Developing Character and Leadership in Athletes

Properly developing leadership in athletes starts with the identity and planning of the program and with empowering players to motivate each other, according to Josie Ferri Tomaino. Josie is the Director of both the Philly Blast and Episcopal Academy programs and a LeagueApps Lax partner.

“To start, we identify our core values: the values we hold most dear in the program and what we want our girls to demonstrate on and off the field,” Josie said.

When athletes enter the program, Josie is clear about expectations and core values. Then, she maps them back to seasonal, monthly, weekly, and daily schedules.

“Plan one month at a time and mark practices, lifts, other major events and birthdays,” she said. “From there you can easily break down your weekly and daily schedules and remember to instill your core values in your planning.”

Josie also makes the players themselves accountable for leadership from the start.

“Create a buddy system. Have an older player buddy up with a player two years younger… this way, the older player that is already bought in can also help you install the values into the younger players.”

An added benefit:  “Creating this system can break up any cliques your athletes may be in, forcing them to work with people they otherwise may not have.”

Creating and Sustaining a Championship Culture for Coaches

Dan Quinn is a former Special Forces Detachment Commander with the U.S. Army Green Berets. He’s also an instructor with The Program, a training service that works with corporate and college athletic teams that inspires team building and individual development.

“At the end of the day, being a great leader comes down to three things,” he said. “Surround yourself with great people, always take full responsibility, and you’re never wrong if you’re doing the right thing.”

Dan has a unique perspective on leadership. He served in Afghanistan, worked at Goldman-Sachs for two years, and is a high school basketball coach and instructor with The Program.

He identifies one characteristic among all very different careers that is common among leaders: “The mark of a true leader is how well he or she performs through adversity.”

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