Few people in sports today are as public about their faith as former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow.
He’s a sought-after motivational speaker who is currently signed to play professional baseball in the New York Mets organization. He’s also a college football analyst for the SEC Network and a familiar face in other sports media.
But the Heisman Trophy winner’s biggest undertaking right now has nothing to do with sports or media. It’s the lives he’s changing through his Tim Tebow Foundation, which exists to bring faith, hope and love to kids in need around the world.
Through all his opportunities, Tim has been a leader to millions of people worldwide who’ve been touched by his faith or his ministry. And with such a large platform, he’s learned a thing or two about leading well.
He shares many of those insights in his newest book, Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms. Shaken offers some great takeaways for leaders, which is why Tim joins Chris Brown as the featured guest on November’s Leadership Momentum Podcast.
Here are four principles Tim shares with leaders on the podcast.
1. Leadership isn’t about position—it’s about influence.
People don’t become good leaders because they’ve been given a title or status. It’s not automatic. Good leadership happens when leaders positively influence the people around them.
“Don’t use your leadership position to shake your finger or talk down to someone,” Tim says in his podcast conversation with Chris. “Use it to go into the trenches and work with them.”
It comes down to having a servant’s heart—one that’s humble. Servant leaders inspire people, and they create in others the desire to better themselves as well.
2. Delegation allows for scalability of your influence.
Tim has expanded his platform and his ministry over the years. In the beginning of his career, it was just him speaking and helping where he could. But a friend gave him some advice that has vastly expanded the scope of his ministry.
The friend talked about how he’d done well financially by acquiring assets that would earn him money while he was doing other things. Tim applied that idea to helping more people. Rather than being intimately involved with every detail of his foundation, he found ways to get more work done and help more people, even if he couldn’t personally be there.
Now he’s leading at a higher level and has brought more people onto his team, but that’s allowed the foundation to help more kids. It’s also helped Tim make the best use of his own time and reach even more people.
3. Don’t take your platform for granted.
A leader’s platform can be taken from them in a split second. It’s happened to Tim each time he’s been cut from an NFL team. His advice: Don’t rest on your laurels, and don’t grow complacent.
“The moment we start to think we’re better than people because of our status or position, then we’re so much closer to that slipping through our fingers and not taking advantage of the platform we have. To think you’ve arrived is the wrong mindset. The right mindset is trying to focus on being even more of what got you there—more of a servant, more of a leader, more loving, more kind—because everybody else is going to follow your example that much more.”
4. Embrace the criticism.
Part of being a good leader is being bold enough to stand by your convictions—even the unpopular ones.
“I think so many times people are afraid to step out, afraid to fail, to give it everything they have,” Tim says. “So they have one foot in and one foot out so they don’t fall flat on their face and embarrass themselves. Instead of living passionately, they’re afraid of what people will think.
“If you stand for something, you will be criticized,” Tim acknowledges. “The Bible tells us that. And that’s okay; criticism isn’t the worst thing. But giving into it, or not doing something because you’re afraid of what people might say, well, that’s a regret you have to live with.”
Want more leadership advice? Check out November’s Leadership Momentum Podcast to hear what else Tim has to say about his life inside and outside of the sports world. In addition to Tim, author and researcher Shaunti Feldhahn chats with Chris on the podcast about her latest research on kindness and its potential to impact the church now and in the future.