Leadership is a sort of perpetual buzzword, but what does it actually look like? A while back, I took inspiration from LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner to write about how great leadership comes down to 3 qualities--awareness, inspiration, and synthesis. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, this video outshines my own article by orders of magnitude:

UCLA center Moses Brown had his head hanging after his team, already trailing, lost possession of the ball. Jaylen Hands then came over to him and showed him where his head should be at--literally. What went on to happen in that arena was truly outstanding, as the Bruins overcame a 17 point deficit to win the game in overtime. 

Amazingly, that comeback has been overshadowed, and rightfully so, by Jaylen Hands' simple gesture. Not because of its endearing nature, or its indubitable effect on the game's eventual outcome, but because it so perfectly epitomized the level of emotional intelligence that, ideally, all leaders would possess. 

Hands--only 19 years old--had the awareness to process the significance of his teammate's pessimism, the inspiration from within to try and correct it, and the synthesis to go about it in an effective way. What more can you ask for from a player? What more can you ask for from any leader? 

The whole situation also highlights another point: moments of adversity (like being 17 points down in the second half) happen to be when leaders are needed most--and when you can tell them apart. As such, entrepreneurs would do well to embrace the challenges that will inevitably face every business; that's how you'll identify leadership within your organization. 

And make no mistake--you need leadership at every level, not just the top. Leaders aren't always the ones in charge, but they're every bit as important, and maybe even more so. They are the ones who take action in the moment instead of waiting for someone else to. The ones who won't let adversity keep them from doing their job. The ones who know it's a team effort, and wouldn't dream of forgetting it. 

One thing's for sure: whether it's on or off the court, Jaylen Hands has a future as one of those people.

Published on: Jan 17, 2019
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