For most of us, the role of a leader is about ensuring those on our team understand and drive toward a common vision. It’s about getting results through others.

Yet, I was reminded recently, the real role of a leader goes beyond this.

Those of you who know me, know I currently live very near Clemson University in South Carolina. Since moving to this area just over 10 years ago, I have become a Clemson fan, particularly of the football team.

For the past 9 years or so, the head coach is a man named Dabo Swinney. He has led the team to multiple conference championships, multiple appearances in the college football playoffs, which only 4 teams get to play, and to one national championship.

While he is rightfully proud of this, he realizes football is only a game and there are ultimately more important things in life. Some of his players are so talented, they are recruited to play professional football before they graduate. Dabo welcomes them back to finish their degree when their playing days are over and if necessary pays for the tuition and board.

I was reminded of the real role of a leader when I saw a quote from Dabo: “You can win, win, win, but if you are not equipping young men to be great husbands and fathers, you lose.” He takes this role quite seriously.

He is essentially saying his role is to help the players under his watch be the best people they can be when they leave the game and live life. He knows the impact husbands and fathers have on their families.

Leaders have a role to develop others. This development is not only to produce greater results for an organization, but to produce better people – people who are responsible and accountable for their behavior; people who have integrity and people who will contribute to society in a positive manner.

Do you take this responsibility of leadership seriously? Are you aware of the influence and impact you have on those you lead? As one of my mentors says, “everything rises and falls on leadership.” Everything, including your influence on a person’s growth and development.

This is the real work leaders do. It may not be as visible as the achievement of yearly business goals, yet in my view, it is 100 times more important.

I’d welcome hearing your perspective on this. Let me know what you think. If you realize you have some work to do in this area and think I can be of help, let’s talk about it.

Best regards,


PS, Dabo’s real first name is William and he grew up in Alabama. The story is told his older brother of just a couple of years couldn’t pronounce William and referred to his little brother as “dat boy” and it was shortened to Dabo.