Penn State’s football program was going through trying times over the past couple of years. One of the greatest coaches of all-time; Joe Paterno was removed as the head football coach because of the Jerry Sandusky incidents. So what was going to happen to this storied football program? In comes new coach Bill O’Brien and with all the controversy and distractions surrounding this program, he was able to right the ship and move the program in a positive direction. Bill O’Brien was recently asked be the keynote speaker to high school graduates from Walt Whitman High School. His speech laid out what he believes to be the six qualities of a good leader. Below is his list; enjoy!
1) Communication: In this day and age of Facebook and Twitter… people don’t have face-to-face communication anymore. This is the antitheses of what football is all about. So when we came to Penn State, one of the things we wanted to do was make sure we have a lot of face-to-face communication with our players, with the people in the athletic department, with our coaching staff…As you head out into the world, in order to be a good leader, you have to be a good communicator. But before you can be a good communicator you have to be an excellent listener. Listen to what the other person is saying to you. I think that is part of communication.
2) People skills: To be a great leader, you have to love being around people and learning about each individual — who you’re on the same team with, who you’re on the same club with and the same organization. Learn about these people. One of the things we do at Penn State is when we go into pre-season training camp, we have a few of our guys each night stand up and talk about things for five minutes that are important to them. It’s our way of learning about each other, whether it is a coach or a player. But I think that is really important to have the people skills to learn about all the people that you’ll become involved with and have interaction with in the different endeavors that you move forward with.
4) Competence: If you’re going to be the leader of an organization, a team a group of people then you have to be competent. You have to know what you’re doing. Whitman has laid the foundation for you. They’ve given you a fantastic education and now you’re going to carry that into college. And now you’re going to figure out what else you want to really know about. Maybe you already have. Maybe you know what you want to do when you graduate college, but most of you haven’t. And so it is important for you to go into college now and become very competent in what it is you have a passion for. Because when you get out into the workforce, when you get out into whatever profession you choose, it’s very important that if you’re going to be a leader that you know what you’re teaching, what your business is about, whatever it may be that you head into.
5) A good heart: To me, this one is really important. Continue to give back to your community. Pick a charity or an organization that is near and dear to your heart. Whether it is a church, an elementary school near where you go to college, special needs children — reach out to these people and give back. A lot of people out there are obviously less fortunate than us. It’s important for you to give back.
6) Courage: Courage is a big word. Know the difference between right and wrong. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you think something is wrong. Have the courage to tell people what you believe in. Find out what you believe in earlier. Don’t wait until it is too late in life to find out what you believe in and have the courage to tell people what that is. Be mentally tough. Be an educated risk taker. If you think about it, if you think it’s worth doing, then take that risk. But be mentally tough to bounce back if it doesn’t work out.
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- An NCAA rule Bill O’Brien would like to change (blogs.mcall.com)
- Why Penn State’s Bill O’Brien Was Best College Football Hire of the Last 5 Years (bleacherreport.com)
- Penn State Football: Bill O’Brien’S Recruiting for 2014 off to Impressive Start (bleacherreport.com)
- Penn State Athletic Director: Bill O’Brien Will Stay “Years And Years” (thacover2.com)
- Penn State AD: Bill O’Brien Will Stay “Years And Years” (blacksportsonline.com)
- A feel-good story about Bill O’Brien and Penn State on HBO’s Real Sports (blogs.mcall.com)
- Penn State Football: Does Bill O’Brien Really Have to Worry About the ‘Joebots’? (bleacherreport.com)
- Penn State’s Bill O’Brien profiled on HBO Real Sports (thesportsbank.net)
- O’Brien reels in another blue-chip QB (espn.go.com)
- Bill O’Brien: Penn State Football Is Still Relevant (pittsburgh.cbslocal.com)