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There is a difference between hiring talented leaders and retaining talented leaders.  Retaining talented leaders is far more difficult as this recent story will attest.

On Sunday afternoon, November 29th Georgia Bulldogs fans everywhere were shocked when university officials fired long-time head football coach Mark Richt.  I was so angered I wrote the post The Type Of Man You Want Leading Your Son – A Tribute To Mark Richt.  It went viral and was my most read post of November.

Some of the fallout also included the team’s top recruit, Gatorade National Football Player Of The Year quarterback Jacob Eason from Lake Stevens, Washington.  Eason had committed to Georgia and had a strong relationship with Coach Richt.  His coming to the Athens campus was now tenuous at best.

Alabama Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart was immediately hired as Georgia’s head coach and one of his first orders of business was locking down the school’s top recruit.  Georgia fans are now breathing a sigh of relief because after meeting with Coach Smart, Eason confirmed his decision to attend the University of Georgia.

Recently, Rivals.com interviewed Jacob’s father, former pro quarterback Tony Eason, about his son’s decision process.  You can read the full article by clicking HERE.  His thoughts will prove valuable to all organizations hoping to retain the services of their top leaders.

The following is How To Avoid Losing Your Team’s Talented Leaders I gleaned from Eason’s interview:

  1. Know A Talented Leader’s Family Matters – Many times the top influencer to leaders is their family.  For me, it is my wife.  The recruitment of Jacob Eason would be a family process with his father, Tony, playing a key role.
  2. Know A Talented Leader’s Relationships Matter – If a leader is going to spend significant time at an organization, he/she wants to enjoy the people they will be around.  Leaders are often lonely and looking for friends.
  3. Know Talented Leaders Have Options – Organizations should not be naive.  Talented leaders are in high demand.  Though he had committed to Georgia, Eason had also strongly considered the University of Washington and the University of Florida.
  4. Know Talented Leaders Want To Be Led By Talented Leaders – Tony said, “It was about the coaches.  We wanted to see who they brought in (after Richt).”
  5. Know Keeping Talented Leaders Takes Hard Work – Eason continued, “Once Kirby got the job he was out here on a jet within 20 hours, no sleep and talking to Jake.”
  6. Know You Must Create Systems For Talented Leaders – Eason added, “We talked about style, what kind of system he wanted to run and what his ideas were.”
  7. Know Talented Leaders Want To Work For Leaders With High Character – Eason continued, “What I did get from Kirby is some of the intangibles you look for in a person, the integrity, the honesty, what kind of person he was and we got a really good feel he’s a guy Jacob could play for.”
  8. Know Talented Leaders Are Smart And Have Done Research On Your Organization – Prior to the family meeting Coach Smart, the Easons researched social media, talked with all their contacts and even made a campus visit in an attempt to discover who the team’s new offensive coordinator would be.
  9. Know Talented Leaders Are Attracted To Healthy Organizations – Leaders operate best surrounded by a healthy organization.  In other words, the best work with the best.  After Jim Chaney was named offensive coordinator, the Easons met with him to gain confidence in his system.
  10. Know Smart Organizations Discover What Their Talented Leaders Value – Simon Sinek calls this “The Why”.  Like all fathers, nothing was as important to Tony as his son’s happiness.  He said, “We sat down in a room and he (Chaney) broke film down.  He had Jake break film down and he wanted to get a feel for where Jake was mentally with the game, coverages and what did they call there and going from there.  I really enjoyed watching those two interact.”  He continued, “I was sitting back and observing that and reading my kid’s body language and I just think they’re going to be a really good match.  That’s the feel I wanted to get, the affirmation that it would be all right.”
  11. Know Talented Leaders Operate Best In Areas Of Their Strengths – Eason further noted about Coach Chaney, “The mark of a good coach is you play to the strengths of the guys on the team. I have a really good feeling he’s going to analyze what Georgia’s strengths are based on their personnel and play to that strength and then recruit the heck out of their weaknesses.”
  12. Know Organizations Should Invest Heavily In The Success Of Their Talented Leaders – They are simply your most valuable asset.  One of Coach Smart’s first hires was Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman.  Eason observed, “The icing on the cake was the o-line hire.  You want to talk about all these people looking at quarterback development and the latest gurus and you have to fly your kid here or there, that o-line coach is more important than any of that. If you don’t have a solid line up front your quarterback isn’t going to play well and he’s going to look terrible.”
  13. Know Talented Leaders Have Back-Up Plans – Remember, they are smart and have experienced previous hardships.  I once had a company president tell me, “Brian, it’s your job to keep your resume updated.  It’s my job to keep you.”  Eason concluded, “”In hindsight, I think families should go through the process and probably do a better job of figuring out what their No. 2 (school) is even though they’re so committed to a school because you never know what can happen.”

What is one thing from this list you can begin doing TODAY to keep your talented leaders?

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