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The Tipping Point of a Great Leader

What does the movie Coach Carter, the book The Tipping Point, and great leadership have in common?

Every Executive I work with wants to be a good, positive, and strong leader. When I ask them what they would like to change in order to make their life easier they often say things like, “it would be great if my team could think more independently to make the best decisions possible WITHOUT me involved!”

But how do you do that? In order to answer that all we need to do is look at the above question because the answer is right there.

One of the most fundamental and pivotal points of a great leader is one most people hate to take on. It is the one ingredient that makes a huge difference between great parents and just okay parents. It is what makes a team stick or fall apart.

That one ingredient is consequences. It means that as a leader you have to have standards that you will NOT compromise no matter who is asking. It means that you have to follow up to make sure the standards are held up by all people. This can be very painful to do!

What I rarely see Executives do well is have direct consequences for poor behavior. In the movie Coach Carter each player had to sign a contract. The contract required them to have an average GPA of 2.3 while the state only required a 2.0, wear ties on game day, to participate in all classes and to sit in the front row.

The players thought these demands were not fair and the parents even stood up and said these are ridiculous standards, yet Coach Carter stayed firm. Even his boss, the school principal, thought he was being too “harsh.” They all thought his standards were too high because they weren’t the “average.” Coach Carter replied that “these are student players. The first word in there is student and that's what I expect them to be.”

Coach Carter took a job at Richman High School where only 50% of all students graduated and only six students out of every one hundred went on to college. That was a standard when he arrived. Parents, teachers and the school principal all told him that he was there to coach basketball and nothing more.

As an Executive you will often face people feeling you are unfair because your “standards” are too high. They will push you to lower them. And often, like in the case of Coach Carter, it could be your boss that tries to get you to lower those standards.

When you have pressure like that it becomes even easier to let go of your consequences for not following the standards. That is the first step to mediocrity.

In the book “The Tipping Point” Malcolm Gladwell proves over and over how ONE little thing can be the tipping point that sends a neighborhood to crime and violence. If one house has a window boarded up it is only a matter of time before crime creeps in to the neighborhood. Stopping the fare jumpers instead of going after the big criminals helped turn the subways around and reduced crime.

So check your own scoreboard. What are your standards? What are you willing to do to support those standards? What consequences will you FAIRLY and JUSTLY enforce to make sure ALL PLAYERS know the standards and follow them?

For this next month, challenge yourself to focus on ONE standard you would like to see followed in your company and set about implementing it in your company. Then just sit back and watch the positive ripple effect.


As the leading Outcome Strategist, Anne Warfield shows people how to say the right thing at the right time every time.  The revolutionary Outcome Focus® Approach shows how to build a candid corporate culture of communication that allows you to lead, present and negotiate transformationally rather than transactionally. When applying Outcome Thinking® our client’s results include sales cycles reducing by 75%, turnover reducing by 30%, silos evaporating, and a 25% savings of time by executives.  Find out how you can maximize your corporate culture for greater productivity and results!  Contact us at 888-imp-9421, visit  www.impressionmanagement.com,  or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .