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Chamber Luncheon with Bob Fisher

The president of Belmont University has a message for leaders of all capacities: You might be doing it wrong.

And Bob Fisher knows what doing it right is all about; donors to the university he leads are giving at an unprecedented rate, its Bruins basketball team is the only one from Middle Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament, and its campus has $250 million of construction projects under way.

“I like to think of it as a quarter-billion dollars,” Fisher told members of the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce at its monthly luncheon March 19.

Fisher spoke of the tenants of a book on leadership he co-authored with Dr. Bo Thomas, a colleague at Belmont, called “Real Dream Teams: Seven Practices Used by World-Class Team Leaders to Achieve Extraordinary Results.” Fisher used as an example the first so-called “dream team” to really sink into American’s psyche, the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team, which pulled out an improbable win against the international powerhouse Soviet Union team.

“That wasn’t a miracle,” Fisher said, referencing sportscaster Al Michael’s iconic call – “Do you believe in miracles?” “It was extraordinary teamwork.”

As research for his book, Fisher met with contemporary leaders from a variety of disciplines in search of qualities that great teams have in common. According for Fisher, great teams have a common mission its the core.

“We believe at Belmont that every student there was made by God, and is here for a purpose,” he said, as an example. “If you are helping somebody, you will never work a day in your life.”

Second, great teams offer each other trusting support.

“Why is it when we need love and support the most, it’s often not there?” Fisher asked, crediting this particular lesson to college football coaching great Lou Holtz. “Do we really support each other, really? Really?”

Each person on a great team also has a clearly defined role, and that no role is more important or less important than another.

“If they play a role on your team, they deserve your respect,” he said. “Every role matters. And every great teams have an attitude of ‘What can I do for you?’”

Win-win cooperation, individual competence, and empowering communication are also hallmarks of teams that are truly effective.

And lastly, great teams have a winning attitude.

“Great teams expect to win,” he said.

“The Book ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ has sold more than 1 million copies for every publisher that rejected it,” Fisher said. “Sixteen publishers turned that book down before someone decided to publish it.”

Norman Vincent Peale was ready to throw in the proverbial towel after facing a continuous wall of rejection, Fisher said. But his wife Ruth would not let him give up. “‘This is good book,’ she told her husband,” encouraging him to continue meeting with publishers. 

“Be confident, expect to win,” he said, tempering the advice by saying overconfidence brings its own challenges.

Posted on: 3/20/2013


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