Extra Points: Leadership is Empathy

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40Serena Williams is arguably the best female tennis player of all time; heck she may challenge Roger Federer as the greatest tennis player of either gender. She lost the US Open Championship on Saturday in what became a highly chaotic and confrontational scene involving Williams and the head judge.

What isn’t up for debate is that Naomi Osaka, her 20-year old Japanese competitor, completely outplayed her and won the match in two sets. It was a historic victory, the first ever Grand Slam Championship by a Japanese player.

The decidedly pro-Serena fans in New York voiced their displeasure during and after the match. The travesty is that they actually booed when Osaka was introduced as the champion, bringing this young champion to tears. What should have been a crowning event for the 20-year old was turning into humiliation. That’s when Serena showed why she’s also a champion as a human.

She graciously put her arm around Osaka’s shoulders when it was clear that she was being overwhelmed by the scene. She then took the microphone and implored the fans to stop the booing and give this young lady her time on the platform as a champion.

It’s a reminder to all of us that dealing with adversity with empathy and humanity is a trait of strong leadership. It’s a rare individual than can take a moment to consider someone other than self. Sometimes its forgiveness; other times it’s understanding; still other times it’s compassion and kindness.

Leadership begins with empathy and a genuine sense of how others are being affected; and continues with acts of compassion and kindness to help someone at the moment they need it most. On Saturday, that was a win for Serena Williams.

Quote of the Week:

”Obstacles are things a person sees when they take their eyes off their goal.”

~ E. Joseph Cossman

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