Pass, Don't Drop the Baton

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Pass, Don't Drop the Baton

Black Belt Leadership
Published by John Terry - The Black Belt Leader in Leadership · Friday 19 Jun 2020
Tags: #beablackbeltleader
Pass, Don't Drop the Baton
John L. Terry, III - The Black Belt Leader

It was the semifinals of the 440-yard relay. Our relay team was one round away from the finals. We took our positions at the four corners of the course, got into position, and watched as the runners approached. As soon as our teammate got to a marked point on the track, we started to sprint.

In a relay race, the exchange of the baton must take place within a predefined area on the track. The approaching runner would give a command signaling the runner ahead to reach back to take the baton. If the baton is passed too early or too late (or if it is dropped), the race is over for the team.

That day, we had a commanding lead on the rest of the teams. The finals were one exchange away and the unthinkable happened. The command was given, the runner who would finish the final leg of the race reached back for the baton only to hear the clanging of the baton as it slipped from the approaching runner's hand. Our race that day was completed. We lost.

One of the most critical times for any organization is when the mantle of leadership is being passed from one leader to the next. The continued success of any enterprise is predicated on the preparation of next-generation leadership, and the transition in place to make that happen. Failure in the preparation or the transition process of installing new leaders can spell disaster for a team. This can be the death knell of an organization.

The ultimate responsibility of a leader is to train other people to lead. A good leader begins to groom those who will one day take his or her place in leadership early on. As an example, Mark Cole is the CEO of John Maxwell Enterprises. Mark has spent 20 years working alongside Dr. John C. Maxwell observing, listening, learning, and being mentored to one day take the reigns and lead this international organization.

Your organization is no different. Leaders develop daily, not in a day. The process of raising up and training leaders is a journey, not a destination. Teaching your team members to lead themselves well, make good choices, and perpetually work to become better at who they are will help them become better at what they do.

Having the opportunity to watch you lead is important. Observation can be a great teacher, but it's not enough.

Explaining the WHY behind your decision-making process and the steps you go through in making decisions is even more important. Teaching them the WHY of your leadership is vital to them gaining not only the knowledge but the insight and wisdom to lead themselves and others well.

Good leaders invite their team members to go along with them on their own personal leadership journey. They share books they are reading, podcasts they are listening to, invite them to hear from the mentors who are speaking into their lives, and sharing the struggles they have dealing with and challenges they have overcome.

Good leaders prepare those who will succeed them using a proven 4-step methodology:

  1. I lead, and you observe my leadership.
  2. I lead, and you lead alongside me.
  3. You lead, and I lead alongside you.
  4. You lead, and I observe.
  5. You replicate this leadership training process in the life of another leader.

No organization ever suffered due to a surplus of good leaders on the team. But far too many organizations suffer (and fail to see lasting success) due to a lack of strong leadership at all levels.

Your job, as a leader, is to raise up leaders. If you're not doing that, you're not leading.

You're dropping the baton.

The leadership training you begin to do today will help assure when it's time to pass the baton, the runner ahead of you is trained, focused and prepared, and the exchange in the transition zone is perfect. That allows the race to continue and the team to win.

2X martial arts Hall of Fame inductee, John Terry (The Black Belt Leader) is passionate about helping others become Black Belt Leaders in Life. He is a motivational speaker, leadership, sales & communication coach, and trainer.   

Jessie Terry, John's daughter, is a Certified Speaker, Coach, and Trainer with the John Maxwell Team and is actively involved in the JMT Global Youth Initiative. She is also a Real-Life Management trained coach and a certified Women-Safe Self-Defense Instructor.

For more information, schedule John (or Jessie) to speak to your organization or to book a personal, group or corporate coaching session, visit our website at  

If you are a faith-based organization, learn more about John and Jessie's outreach to churches, para-church organizations or faith-based volunteer groups by visiting

John is an Executive Director with the John Maxwell Team and is passionate about helping others pursue excellence as they become "Leaders in Life". He is also a Master Coach & Trainer with Real Life Management, a human behavioral training organization helping people learn how to live "Real Life" and make better choices when it comes to relationships, money, health, and wellness. John is also a certified DISC Human Behavior Consultant.

John's newest book, Black Belt Leadership 101, released as a #1 New Release on Amazon Kindle in late March and has been on the Amazon Best Sellers List for over 2 months. Also available in paperback, this book highlights the 10 essential character traits necessary to live life as a Black Belt Leader in Life.

Why just be a leader, when you can be a Black Belt Leader?

This book includes a Discussion Guide for either your own personal growth and development or to facilitate a group discussion with your Team. Get your copy today.

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