Post by Casey Knudsen
Leadership has always been an important concept to me. Growing up heavily involved in sports, I realized early on that without an efficient and empathetic leader, a team cannot perform to its full potential. This understanding of group dynamics between a team and its leader has carried over with me from sports and other extracurricular activities into my post-secondary education and professional endeavors. I strive on a daily basis to lead by example. I do not always meet my goal, but I believe that the ability to self-examine, understand where I am deficient, and try to improve in those areas is important in any leadership role.
I also believe that a leader cannot be above any task that a team is presented with, whether that task is time-consuming or uneventful. A team is much more likely to trust in their leader and perform even the most menial job when they know that their leader is willing to do the same. As I said before, many of these leadership skills I learned when involved in sports. I do not believe that sports are the most important thing in a high-schooler’s life, but they are a very vital method of teaching young people how and how not to be an effective leader later in life.
In my experience, sports almost taught me how NOT to be a leader more than they taught me the correct way to lead. I have had many great coaches in my athletic career, but it seems that the coaches that performed and treated their teams poorly had more of an impact on my leadership style than the good ones. These poor coaches impressed on me the importance of being an empathetic leader and understanding the struggles of not only the above average team members, but the team members that need greater support as well. Being a leader does not only mean utilizing your team as they are, but trying to improve your team and develop them into something greater.
Agriculture has also taught me a great deal about being a leader. Work ethic has always been a heavily emphasized skill on the ranch, which translated into the professional world. Working cattle has been a great teacher as well. Being able to stay calm, cool and collected when working cattle is paramount, as the more upset you act, the wilder cattle tend to behave. This is something every leader must understand, since being able to steel yourself in the face of adversity not only allows you to think straight yourself, but it keeps your team from breaking down.
Being involved in the Leadership Series has not only taught me valuable skills, it has proved to me that my leadership style can be effective. This series has also shown me that no matter how good you think you might be at whatever you are doing, there is always room for improvement.
The Leadership Series is made possible through the support of MSGA’s Research Education and Endowment Foundation. Want to learn more about our Leadership Series? Check out the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.