Leadership – Coach Dantonio Inspires

Leadership – Coach Dantonio Inspires


Happy New Year and welcome to our new website and improved blog.  I will be writing a new post each week about a current event related to character and leadership.  Please oblige me this time and allow me to speak about something personal to me.

I am a graduate of Michigan State University, which makes me a die-hard Spartan (not the kind who jumps on and off the band-wagon based on how the team is doing).  For most of my life, I have used the saying, “It’s not easy being green.” If you are a spartan fan, you connect with that right away. The Spartans have a knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. They have not been to the Rose Bowl or any other BCS bowl game for 26 years. Last year, their record was 7-6 and they looked ugly doing it.

After that below-average season, the head coach, Mark Dantonio, flew out to Los Angeles. From the 50 yard line of the Rose Bowl stadium, he taped a message for his players.  He told them, “You will be the ones.” He went on to say, “We have a plan to get here.” Imagine showing this video to a team that just went 7-6 the year before and getting them to believe it.  Not half-heartedly or with a snicker, but fully buying into the notion that after 26 years of “almosts,” “close-calls” and some “abysmal failures,” this group of young men would play in the Rose Bowl.


In case you slept threw  your Christmas vacation, you probably know that MSU won the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2014 finishing the season 13-1 and ranked #2 in the country. I was one of about 50,000 fans who made the trip to Pasadena to witness this historic victory.

Author’s Perspective: A true leader is someone who has a grand vision and can inspire others to follow that vision. After watching this season unfold, I am struck with the notion that Coach Dantonio is a true leader. He didn’t wait until the stars were aligned properly to create this vision.  He believed that this group of athletes could get to the Rose Bowl, far before the players believed it themselves. He was able to articulate this vision, enact a plan and get everyone to buy in.  He inspired the staff, the players, the Spartan community. Not with glitz or pizzazz, but with sheer determination and will.  This, to me, is inspiring!

Your Turn

1) Social Media Question: Given the description of “A true leader is someone who has a grand vision and can inspire others to follow that vision,” name someone who fits this this description?

2) Who in your personal life (someone you know) inspires you or others to be better?




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