July 24, 2024


World's finest Law

Lessons from Pat Summitt – Leading As Lawyers


When it arrives to instructing as a variety of management, handful of offer you additional worthwhile lessons than Mentor Pat Summitt.

Michael J. Higdon

Professor of Legislation and the Affiliate Dean for College Development

University of Tennessee University of Legislation

Proudly exhibited in my residence business office is a basketball autographed by Coach Pat Summitt.  Now, this could not audio significantly noteworthy—indeed, I visualize there are a lot of these kinds of basketballs adorning quite a few households and offices across the region.  If you realized me, even so, you would know it’s quite odd that I would even possess a piece of sporting memorabilia, substantially fewer depend it amid my most prized belongings. The cause stems from the inspiration I have received from Mentor Summitt when it arrives to educating as a form of leadership and, extra precisely, the huge effects a leader can have merely by focusing on the demands of people she serves. But before I say a lot more about that matter, let me supply some qualifications on how I came to respect this legend in the planet of sport.  

Appropriate about now, you could be considering that I, as a school member at The College of Tennessee, selected Mentor Summit as the subject of this guest publish in an endeavor to curry favor with “VolNation,” the enthusiastic (to put it mildly) admirer foundation of The College of Tennessee where Coach Summitt used thirty-8 many years coaching the Girl Vols to achievements way too various to depend.  Well, you will quickly alter your head when you browse what I have to say future.  Namely, when I moved to Knoxville in 2009, I experienced never ever even read of Pat Summitt.  And, no, I was not dwelling in a cave someplace or calling into query the extent of her celeb outdoors the state of Tennessee.  I just have never ever been significantly of a sporting activities lover and, therefore, am fairly oblivious to points relevant to that subject matter.

Nevertheless, one particular are unable to dwell in East Tennessee and escape the legacy—richly earned—of Mentor Summitt.  Indeed, she is just about everywhere here—from an real statue of her on campus to the many folks you cross paths with who will proudly share (generally with tears in their eyes) tales of interactions they as soon as had with the woman Athletics Illustrated called “a power of mother nature.”  Despite my relative disinterest in sports activities, I am a university student of leadership and am fascinated by these who lead correctly. So, intrigued by reverence that accompanied all items related to Coach Summitt, I resolved a couple yrs ago that I required to discover far more about her and what had encouraged so significantly admiration among the such a broad cross-segment of people.  I knew she experienced an amazing document of success—indeed, at the time of her retirement, she experienced the most profession wins in the history of school basketball—but I would shortly master that there was so much much more to this remarkable human staying.  

I ended up looking at a number of books, seeing quite a few documentaries, and even speaking with people who experienced labored intently with her.  What I found was another person had a deep appreciation for leadership (which she defined as “a form of momentary authority that some others grant you”) but not as a signifies of winning, but as an alternative as a usually means of inspiring some others to obtain excellence in their personal correct.  That, by alone, was inspiring more than enough. Having said that, offered that I contemplate myself to be to start with-and-foremost a trainer, what most struck me most was the way in which she saw her part as a instructor to be just an extension of her position as leader. To illustrate, consider the following quotes—some of my favorites—from Mentor Summitt: 

  • 1. “The reward of staying a teacher is to enjoy the widening of young eyes when they encounter anything new.”

A person of the things I like most about Coach Summitt is that, even with her significant celebrity, she absolutely relished her purpose as a instructor.  And that joy arrived not from standing in entrance of these younger ladies and basking in their worship of her (and, let’s be genuine, how could they not worship her?), but from the system her coaching part gave her to information these younger persons. She noticed her players not as instruments that would assist her secure a further NCAA championship, but as people who were being hunting to increase by themselves and essential her assistance. And guide she undoubtedly did. Of training course, the gamers had to place in the work, but she was there to enable manual them on their journeys. As Mentor Summitt herself said, “I remember how several of them fought for a better lifestyle for on their own. I just met them midway.”

  • 2. “I’d learned the single most critical theory of instructing: they never care how substantially you know except they know how a great deal you treatment.” 

When I started out my have vocation as a instructor and was fearful about slipping flat on my experience in front of a roomful of learners, a clever mentor (thank you, Professor Terrill Pollman!) instructed me that college students would forgive nearly any miscalculation if they actually believed you cared about them and have been invested in their accomplishment.  It is crystal clear that Coach Summitt adopted a related route.  When she unfortunately passed in 2016, countless previous gamers arrived forward to tell stories of how Mentor Summitt had gone out of her way to get to know and to care for them as wholistic human beings.  She was notoriously difficult on her players, but she generally created positive that they realized that she saw them and that she cared.  As Coach Summitt when said, “[m]y demandingness was dependent in a fundamental feeling that each individual kid had possible greatness in her—and they understood that, due to the fact I designed it apparent to them.”

  • 3. “When a player will make a oversight, you generally want to put them again in [the game] quickly—you do not just berate them and sit them down with no chance for redemption.” 

For Mentor Summitt, profitable and losing have been eclipsed by the personal journeys of the people today she led, and she endeavored to never ever lost sight of that.  This quotation, which considerations the want to give gamers a likelihood to redeem themselves, illustrates completely that aspect of Mentor Summitt’s management. Inherent in that philosophy is how, the expertise we as instructors convey to our learners usually means nothing if it isn’t ultimately being passed on these pupils in a way that they can wield it for them selves.  Opportunities for redemption are critical to the transfer of information, and so is feed-back.  Coach Summitt realized that feed-back was vital, having at the time stated that, “in the absence of feedback, individuals will fill in the blanks with a negative.  They will presume you really don’t care about them or do not like them.”  I consider several folks have the requires on their time that Mentor Summitt likely experienced during her career, which would make it all the more admirable that she would acquire the time to guarantee that her team was receiving the instruction and the feedback they necessary.  

  • 4. “Winning is impermanent . . . what lingers is not the chilly metallic trophy but the sensation of warm exultation you shared with a single a further.”

I near with this quotation because it tends to make 1 position abundantly and superbly apparent. Underlying Coach Summitt’s full leadership philosophy (and, indeed, all the other offers I identified previously mentioned) is the knowing that management is not about the win it’s about the associations and the chance just one has as a leader to carry other folks up.  Coach Summitt believed that, as teachers, the most enduring legacy we can create is by means of all those we assistance and encourage together the way.  As somebody who lives in East Tennessee and is often confronted with the reverence that proceeds to exist for Coach Summitt, she has definitely demonstrated herself correct on that rating.

When it will come to instructing as a sort of leadership, several give additional important lessons than Mentor Pat Summitt.  Indeed, for all that Coach Summitt has taught me, and in spite of my relative ignorance of all things sports activities-related, I now consider myself a large enthusiast of her get the job done and her extensive legacy.  As I continue on on my individual journey as a teacher, I continue to keep that autographed basketball as a supply of inspiration for the duties and, extra importantly, the wealthy management alternatives that arrive with that job.


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