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  • Writer's pictureBurk Moreland

3 Leadership lessons I Learned From 13 Year Olds

This week I have had the great opportunity to watch both of my daughters play at a national volleyball tournament in Orlando, Florida.  Both of them are leaders on their teams and it makes me so proud to see the young ladies they are becoming.

However, as I sit and watch the games, I can’t help but notice some pretty clear lessons in leadership that can apply both to sports and to our business teams.   Here are 3 leadership lessons I learned from watching these games that can help make you an instantly better leader TODAY.


One of my mentors used to say “Be brief, be brilliant, be gone.” There is no reason to talk in circles for 10 minutes on a topic that could have been covered in 1.  As I watched coaches try to get their point across to these kids, it was fascinating to watch the ones that over talked.  The kids totally started tuning them out.  Eyes started rolling.  Smiles and focus were replaced by yawns and slow blinks.  I watched one player come to the sideline and when asked by their parents ‘What did she say?’ the child responded with a shrug of her shoulders.  The message did not get relayed.

We do the same thing to our teams.  We so desperately want to make sure they they ‘get it’, that we keep talking.  Most of the time, if you have done a good job of leading in the first place, your team knows what to do already.  A quick reminder and a pat on the back is many times all that is needed!


I saw a lot of teams struggling with basic skills. Many teams weren’t beaten by the opponent, but by their own mistakes at skills that should be second nature, especially at tournament time.

In business, that looks like covering the basics such as the financial health of your business, having a basic business plan, and setting targets and goals.  If you and your team don’t have a handle on the financials of your business such as a cash flow statement or balance sheet, it’s time to get back to basics. Forecasting using these tools can make your plan a reality instead of a prayer.


Sad to say, I saw several coaches and parents who were just never happy. Now I am the first to say ‘always appreciative, never satisfied,’ but they are missing the first part of that statement. People need to see their leader excited and happy.  They feed off of that energy and use it as a queue to spark their own fire.

Now, there was one coach who couldn’t sit down. He jumped several feet in the air after every point.  He cheered and screamed for joy with every great play. And, so did his players.  They didn’t even win the game I watched, but they worked hard, focused on improving things that needed improvement, never gave up, and had fun doing it.  What if your team did the equivalent of those things every day?  Or maybe even the same things, who knows how cheering and jumping for joy after a deal’s been closed, or a major milestone’s been hit might motivate, right?

We can learn a lot from children.  So as you go on to lead your teams into whatever ‘battles’ you may face, remember:  Talk less and get to the point, make sure you are doing the basics, and finally, celebrate and enjoy the ride.  Your teams will thank you.  And one last thing, if you’re a parent of a child who plays sports, or coach of a kids sport, try not to forget that they are just kids.  Don’t take the game so seriously that you rob yourself and your children of the experience.

Let me know what some of your favorite leadership lessons have been, in the comments below!

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