Leadership Road

May 22, 2015

Earlier this month, the small portion of Michigan voters who bothered to vote at all resoundingly rejected the so-called road fix – Proposal One. It was no surprise, and provides at least these two leadership lessons.

First, people expect their designated leaders to lead. From everything I’ve read, heard and felt personally, voters were upset that their elected officials could not or would not fix our state’s crumbling roads and bridges. They punted; and the voters punted the ball right back to the people they expect to have the wisdom and will to craft and compromise their way to workable solutions to tough problems.

The second lesson is that people expect straightforward solutions. Again, there is every indication that Proposal One was too complicated and a far more comprehensive package than people could comprehend. By trying to do more than fix roads and bridges, the proposal wasn’t able to get the support needed to do anything at all.

The creativity and courage to prepare and promote the most direct remedy for road repair is a top issue for the State of Michigan. Taxpayers of the state want their elected officials to run an offense to move the ball across the goal line, with little razzle-dazzle and no punts. 

That’s the preferred and probably necessary approach for addressing the major problems of any enterprise, including ours.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on MHSAA.com on January 8, 2013.)

I try to start each new school year at the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association summer camp at Michigan State University. I talk briefly about who the MHSAA is and what it does; and then two or three dozen high school newspaper editors and writers ask me questions; and in doing so, they give me clues to what’s going on in our schools and what’s important to our students.

Several years ago, when I opened the session to questions, one young man asked: “Mr. Roberts, what’s your job?” I paused, and then said, “I guess I’m the head cheerleader for high school sports in Michigan.”

So then this precocious student asked: “Okay, what do you cheer for?”  With a briefer pause, this is some of what I said:

  • I cheer for sportsmanship that’s not merely good, but great.

  • I cheer for sportsmanship, not gamesmanship.

  • I cheer for playing by the rules, both the letter and the spirit.

  • I cheer for maximum effort to try to win each and every contest.

  • I don’t cheer for winning at any cost; I do cheer for learning at every opportunity.

  • I cheer for losing with grace and for winning with even greater grace, with humility and modesty.

  • I cheer for the lessons of victory and the even greater lessons of defeat.