Be a Leader, Not a Follower

We shared a wonderful evening with new friend, LeRoy Butler, on October 8th. The ISM (Institute for Supply Management), AWMI (Association of Women in Metals Industry), PMI (Project Management Institute) and ASQ (American Society for Quality joined us also.

Many know the LeRoy Butler story:  selected by the Packers in the second round of the 1990 draft; played 181 games, earned a Super Bowl ring after the 1996 season, selected All-Pro 5 times, and was selected to the Pro Bowl four times.  He was named to the NFL 1990's All-Decade Team by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and later inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame . . . and then there's that LAMBEAU LEAP . . . however, what many don't know is that LeRoy spent much of his childhood staring out the window from a wheelchair with braces on his legs.

He was raised in the Jacksonville FL projects by an amazing woman who challenged him to dream of what he wanted to be when he grew up, which was a pro football player.  His family tried to encourage him to be a bit more realistic, afterall he was in a wheelchair but his mother encourage him to be strong, be a leader, not a follower.

LeRoy shared wonderful memories of his times playing for the Green Bay Packers and the inspirational men he worked with along the way.  One of his heroes was coach Mike Holmgren who helped him to understand the one cannot win until they accept leadership and forgo unselfishness.  That was in 1995, in 1996 LeRoy and the Packers won the Super Bowl with quarterback Brett Favre and defensive lineman Reggie White.  LeRoy remembered the first time he saw Favre and thought he looked like Jethro Tull!  Playing with Favre taught him a great lesson:  if you're going to be a follower, choose the right leader!

LeRoy travels through Wisconsin speaking to our youth about bullying and believing in themselves.  He tells them that they can be whatever they want to be, just like his mother told him.  He tells them to say it out loud or follow the person who said it; ignore the foolishness and get on with their life.  It wasn't that long ago that he was the kids that was being bullied and I'm sure that they leave a bit more inspired, as we all did after his speech.

Butler has taken his life's lessons and applied them to the LeRoy Butler foundation where he assists women who are undergoing cancer treatment so they can focus on healing and not worrying about how they're going to pay their bills.  He auctioned off a canvas print of his famed 'Lambeau Leap' and it garnered $400 for his charity.

One might ask what a topic like this has to do with APICS and operations management?  I believe the message is in the game -- how a football team believes in each other and the strengths they bring to the game -- just like our workplace teams, right?

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