Q. What do you do for a living and what leadership roles do you have?
Mike: I am the Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations at UC Davis. My leadership role primarily consists of overseeing a staff of three other fulltime individuals and a student staff of approximately 5-6 undergraduates.
Q. What do you consider to be your leadership style and how did you develop it?
Mike: I believe in giving my staff the tools to be successful and then the autonomy to the job done. I am there to assist whenever needed but I try not to micromanage. There are times when I may notice a thing here or there that needs attention in their work but for the most part I provide them the freedom to do their job. I very rarely use the term “my staff” but rather like to say “colleagues” because I want to foster a team atmosphere and not make them always think I am “their boss”. I also believe in playing to people’s strengths. If they’re successful, we’re all successful. My style has been developed as a combination of all the positive traits I’ve encountered with my supervisors in my career.
Q. Having patience in a stressful situation could have significant benefits, how important do you perceive patience to be in a good leader?
Mike: Patience is the key to being an effective leader. Sometimes you have to think quickly and you may think patience may not always be prudent but you at least need patience in your thinking so that you can properly analyze a situation to decide what action to take. Patience in a leader is important because as a leader you have to see the big picture. Taking as much time as you need to do that will help lead to better decisions.
Q. What are some of the biggest challenges that leaders face in the sport industry and how have they changed over the years?
Mike: The biggest challenges facing leaders in the sports industry have certainly changed over the years. I think one of the biggest ones are all the competing interests. That is, there are a lot of sports competitions for attention. How do you find your niche? How do you succeed knowing you have so little time to attract someone’s attention and keep it? As a good leader, it’s building the teamwork and the framework to make your team or business successful in order to compete in a fast world. And, I think there is a lot of pressure for people to want to be successful on an individual basis. Trying to foster a team mentality while allowing individuals to shine is also a challenge.
Q. What do you feel to be the biggest internal and external threats to good leadership in your organization?
Mike: I’m not sure what the biggest threats would be. I think in any organization there might be individuals who are don’t buy in to the team-first approach. That can slow a unit’s growth and make leadership difficult. My goal is to build a team through good leadership. If someone doesn’t believe that is the best way for our unit to be successful, then it will slow our goals.
Q. A lack of trust and accountability are some of the biggest issues that teams or groups face, how much of this do you see playing out in your organization?
Mike: In my organization (that is the athletics department and NOT the
teams themselves), I only see a little lack of trust and accountability but it’s no different, in my opinion, from any other place. The lack of trust and accountability is not extensive and certainly not a hindrance to being productive. We’re lucky in that most people in our industry have worked in athletics environments most of their lives so they have a teamwork mentality already built in.
Q. What do you think could be done to alleviate some of these issues?
Mike: The solution to this problem is simple, teamwork. The more you help each other, then the more you will trust each other. Accountability is different with a team than individual. Win as a team, lose a team.