Servant Leadership

Dec 7, 2021

Another episode of “The Clarkives

(Photo Credit: Chad Ryan)

It’s been nearly 24 hours and you can still feel the optimism, excitement, and passion.

Monday was not your typical press conference; this one was special that included a former quarterback, the AD, and the University President.

It was different because you could feel it and see it in the faces of those in attendance.  It was probably the same for the thousands that viewed the press conference online.

As I drove back to Portage, I reflected on the day to try to understand what had happened.

It was simple – leadership and, more importantly servant leadership.

Servant leadership is defined as one who “focuses on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong”.

Notre Dame hit a grand slam with the hiring of Marcus Freeman because he has “it”.

Ara Parseghian when he was hired talked about how he relied on the previous 13 years of coaching experience to be the head coach at Notre Dame.

Freeman talked about his playing and coaching experiences, but what resonated in his address to the Notre Dame nation was his what he learned from his parents – a 26 year career Air Force veteran and a Korean mother.

Much like Freeman’s approach in coaching by teaching the fundamentals, the key to his success at Notre Dame will be because of the values learned from his parents.

A great way to view an athletic program is through the prism of a pyramid – popularized by UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden and called the “Pyramid of Success”.

When you take a look at a pyramid– the top (the pyramidion) represents “Competitive Greatness”, while the bottom represents the foundation or pillars of success.

Freeman has the foundational tools to build upon in his quest to return a national championship to South Bend.

He also possesses the necessary skills and traits that form the middle part of the pyramid, which is epitomized in his communication skills.

A glimpse into the future of Notre Dame football will take place on January 1st in the Fiesta Bowl when the Freeman led Fighting Irish will take on the 11-2 Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Sure, there will be some bumps in the road and some learning experiences along the way, that will naturally be expected.

But in listening to the introductory remarks by the 30th head coach in Notre Dame history and feeling the excitement and seeing signs of hope in the eyes of the players, fans, media, athletic department, and University administrators, the Irish will compete and continue to create a culture of success under Freeman.

One thing you will not hear in a post-game press conference under Marcus Freeman is that, “we need to coach better.”

Freeman with his Wife, six Children and Parents (Photo: Chad Ryan)

By Len Clark Ph.D.

Len Clark Ph.D. of Irish 101, a veteran journalist and noted expert on cutting edge media technologies. Len continues to serve as a frequent consultant and occasional contributor to FIP.

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