Tony DeMeo


Question and Answer with Charles Stebbins

Charles Stebbins is a retired Brigadier General who served as the Provost at The University of Charleston while I was the head football coach. Dr. Stebbins is now head of the under-graduate and graduate school of business at UC. In my last season at UC, I had Dr. Stebbins speak to my staff on leadership and he did such a great job that I’d like to share some of his important points with you.

First some background on Charles Stebbins:

  1. He served 6 years in the Pentagon
  2. He served 4 years on the National Security staff dealing with everything to do with nuclear weapons.
  3. He was the Executive Asst. to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs working on problems involving the Mid-East. He also worked on the re-organization of the Armed Forces.
  4. He was corporate Vice President of Northrop- Grumman Corporation for 12 years.

He received numerous honors and awards during his military service and was just as successful in the Business world. I’ve known Dr. Stebbins as a “straight shooter” who still maintained a great sense of humor. He dealt with people compassionately and with a strong sense of justice. He has Leadership down pat.

Coaches can really benefit from advice from a Brigadier General who also has experience in the realm of business and in the world of Academia. So my question to Dr. Stebbins was: What are the five most important traits of good leadership?

Stebbins: The five key traits that are common in all areas of leadership are:

  1. Integrity – people must trust the leader. And leaders must expect those they lead to have integrity as well. Trust is a two way street.
  2. Take Care of Your People – develop your people so they can advance. This involves training so you can promote within the organization.
  3. Delegate – pick the right people and let them do their job. It starts with hiring the right people and then turning them loose. Jimmy Carter’s weakness as a leader was his failure to delegate.
  4. Communication – make sure everyone is on the same page. But no more than fifteen minute meetings and never meet to meet. Long meetings are not conducive to short attention spans.
  5. Manage Your Ego – always remember who you are. You are no better than the next guy, so keep your ego in check. Once some people have some success they let it go to their heads and they forget about all those that helped them achieve that success.

These are the five most important traits of good leadership.

Certainly coaches can all see the lessons that apply to leading a football team. We all know that integrity is the foundation of any relationship. And training and preparing young coaches to assume greater responsibility is important in maintaining continuity in the program. Hire good people and letting them coach will only give you more time to be an effective head coach but also get more” buy –in” from your assistants. Communication is always important but preaching is for church not football. Keep it brief. And finally win or lose don’t tie your self- worth to the result. These are my thoughts on my interview with Charles Stebbins.

I’d like to thank Dr. Stebbins for his time and hope you get some ideas from this Q & A session.