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Herm Edwards embodied ‘coach’ early on

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Herman Edwards, newly named head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs football team, always had leadership in his bones.

Even as a teenager—Edwards starred at defensive back for Monterey, Calif., High School—he had the ability to focus on the big picture.

“He had that carriage, you know, and that smile that disarms anybody,” says former Monterey High assistant coach Sal Cardinale. “I’ll tell you what he did for me.”

The team was having a great year, Cardinale remembers. With a big game coming up, the head coach bought new jerseys, passing them out on game night.

One player—annoyed that his jersey didn’t carry the number he wanted— started complaining. Incensed that this kid was so concerned about himself, Cardinale couldn’t continue his prep work at the chalkboard. He threw the chalk against the wall and stomped out.

Edwards followed his coach to an old oak tree.

“Coach,” the young Edwards said with a big smile, “you can’t do that. Relax.”

The coach blurted out how much the complainer irritated him.

“You know how he is,” Edwards replied. “We’ll take care of it. Relax. You’ve got to enjoy the game tonight.”

With that, the 18-year-old cooled off his leader.

Lesson: If you can think clearly, you’ll be the one who comes out of a crisis in good shape.

—Adapted from It’s the Will, Not the Skill, Jim Tunney, Executive Books.

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