by Michael Holland    

Obstacles confront us daily.  Leaders get the opportunity to not only overcome their own challenges, but to also guide others to persevere through/over/past their challenges.

Matt and Kim Shell are my heroes.  They are leaders of a very small team that in 2009 faced challenges that tested the deep reservoirs of all the wisdom gained through life.  Through their leadership, they guided Jacob, one of their team members, to be a strong performer and successful in all that he was working towards.

While many of us are challenged during a typical week with managing overlapping meetings, solving people dynamics and juggling endless work deadlines, Jacob spent part of a week in 2009 delivering 59 million stem cells in his fight against neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer.  Jacob, my redheaded neighbor and all of 8 years old at the time, reflected the strength, fortitude and positive energy that his parents, Matt and Kim, had instilled in him.

Impactful leaders walk the walk every day, revealing the behaviors and attitudes they expect of those who follow.   Matt and Kim’s leadership seemed all the norm before Jacob’s illness.  What shone through in 2009 was just how effective they had been as leaders of their small team/family over the 8 short years before Jacob’s illness.  Jacob’s brilliance shone through with the simplicity of how to work through challenges one day at a time.

On November 23, 2012 Matt Shell, head coach of the  Burnt Hills High School football team, led our team onto the field for the NY State Championship Game.  Thousands of fans watched the game at Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome or on cable television.  The game was exciting; the tension high.  Matt was busy on the sideline leading, inspiring, and motivating the team.  Every now and then we saw a glimpse of an 11 year old redheaded kid roaming the sideline.  And in the hearts of hundreds of young adults who have been students of Kim or Matt, or played on Matt’s teams, and in the hearts of the rest of us, the brightness of great leadership was revealed, forever solidified as a standard to which other leaders should be compared.

Your leadership impacts people every day and for years to come.  Stand up and lead in ways that will shine through others.  For more of the Shell’s story visit their website:  Shellstrong Foundation Story page.

P.S.  Burnt Hills prevailed in the game and we were crowned state champions.

Coaching Moments – For You and Your Peers

  • Have you experienced a moment when your leadership has shone through someone else?  What emotions can you capture from that moment?
  • Think about the other roles you play in life outside of work.  How might your leadership skills/behaviors come out in those roles?
  • Has someone else’s leadership shone through you?  Maybe you should give them a call and let them know.