Since immemorial, in different communities and countries, there have always existed famous people no matter what traits make them popular/famous. every body likes to be famous, but different personal traits make some to be more famous than others. in most cases, positive attributes contributes a great deal towards ones fame. it is thus of utmost important for one to understand that fame doesn’t just come easily but rather requires commitment and positive contribution and society at large.
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For many people interested in football, particularly college football, Lou Holtz is a household name. In the sports industry, it is difficult to have a conversation regarding successful coaches in America without mentioning Lou Holtz. It for this reason that I have chosen Lou as the leader I admire most. Born in January 6, 1937, in Follansbee, West Virginia Holtz grew up in East Liverpool, Ohio and attended East Liverpool High school and Kent State University, respectively. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1960, at Iowa and has been a success since then (Thamel; 2004). This paper seeks to look into the life and times of Lou Holtz as a leader. This will be done by providing some biographical information about Lou Holtz, this implies looking into how he became a great leader, who influenced him and what experiences he had, identification of specific traits or characteristics of the Lou that make him a great leader, Identification of both strengths and weaknesses of Lou and finally looking into other issues that constitute good leadership with respect to Lou.
Small Biography of Lou Holtz
As stated earlier, Lou Holtz was born in 1937. Having been born and raised in Follansbee, West Virginia, Holtz grew up in East Liverpool, Ohio and attended East Liverpool High school and Kent State University. It is in these academic levels that his love for football was generated. From then on it was a road of success, though accompanied by failure in some instances, for Holtz. His professional career started in 1960 as a coaching assistant. He was then an assistant at William & Mary (between the years 1961–63), Connecticut (between 1964–65), South Carolina (between 1966–67) and Ohio State (in 1968). After winning the State Championship with Ohio in 1968, he landed a job as head coach of The College of William & Mary in 1969. It did not take long before his presence was felt as in 1970; he led the William & Mary Indians to the Southern Conference title and played in the Tangerine Bowl. In 1972 he moved to North Carolina State and had a 31–11–2 record in four seasons. His Wolf pack teams played in four bowl games, going 2-1-1. It was not long before he moved to New York Jets then to Arkansas then to Minnesota and finally to Notre Dame. In all these teams, Holtz had seasons of success accompanied by some short stints in failure. All in all, it is in order to say that Holtz career was successful in all these teams. Holtz retired in 1996 from Notre Dame for reasons not known to many. However, he took a job as a commentator for CBS sports but three years later (in 1999) Holtz came out of retirement in 1999 and returned to the University of South Carolina as head coach. His career in South Carolina was successful as expected. It was during his tenure that Gamecocks recorded the best comeback ever in football history with eight wins in his second season compared to zero in the season preceding when he had just arrived. Holtz then retired in 2004 as head coach of South Carolina and then ventured into broadcasting as a college football studio analyst for ESPN. His last stint in coaching was however followed by many scandals and controversies that soiled his name as a coach. On May 1, 2008, Holtz was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Traits that make Holtz a Great Leader
One of the greatest leadership traits, in my view, that Holtz possesses is his ability to bring out the best in everyone. Holtz took four different programs to top 20 finishes, won a national championship and National coach of the year honors, and guided teams to 22 postseason bowl games. For this reason, Coach Holtz was named SEC Coach of the Year, AFCA Region 2 Coach of the Year, and received National Coach of the Year honors from Football News and American Football Coach Quarterly. He has a way of tapping the maximum potential of individuals who probably were being wasted by failing to maximize their untapped potential. This is indeed one good trait of a leader. It is for this reason that the coach received many awards for his outstanding efforts.
A good leader keeps the main goal in focus and is able to think analytically. This helps him achieve the desired goals effectively. Holtz is a good example of this trait. In many of the teams (if not all) that Holtz coached, the main goal was met at all costs. Holtz has the best success rate compared to other college football coaches. His commitment to excellence also displays his leadership skills. This is the most imperative trait a leader must posses in order to lead his team to success.
His character and enthusiasm towards his work are other relevant traits that not so many leaders posses. It is no wonder that his success as a coach outweigh the failures. It was evident that Holtz was passionate about his work. This was seen when he came out of retirement to coach the South Carolina team. Even in his retirement, he is still actively involved in the sporting career. His character is one that is admirable amongst his peers and in the general public. This has made him a great leader
Weaknesses of Holtz
Perhaps one and the only weakness of Lou Holtz was his inability to maintain his cool. At his last press conference as South Carolina's coach, Holtz said it was ironic that he and former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes both would be remembered for "getting into a fight at the Clemson game". This is experienced in many football games where coaches often loose their cool and end up in brawls. It would have been expected that for a leader such as Holtz he would have maintained his cool in this situation (Lesko; 1996).
Many people admire politicians, doctors, lawyers and many other people as leaders. I am a firm believer of the phrase that “leadership is not measured by the quantity of people behind you but by the quality of the people behind you”. I admire most a football coach, as a leader. This is a leader who many people will remember not only for what he did but for the lives he changed. It is not withstanding that there is also a large quantity of people behind him but the quality of those people is also incredible. Leadership revolves around influencing people to move towards a particular direction. This was a great leader who managed to contribute positively as well as influenced many in the right direction that was greatly acceptable by the community.