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7 Questions on Leadership with Roger Idstrom

Name: Roger Idstrom

Title: Assistant Basketball Coach

Organisation: Lipscomb University

I am an Assistant Basketball Coach at Lipscomb University. This is my 33rd year coaching at the collegiate level.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Roger's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

The most challenging part of leadership is developing relationships that lead to trust. Without trust, you'll never be able to lead others. They have to know that you honestly care for them and have their best interests in mind.

And as I get older, it is difficult to relate with the younger generation. This takes a lot of very intentional work. For me, the best way to accomplish this is being very transparent and vulnerable. It's not always easy, but today's young people aren't looking for wise older people to teach them, they are looking for people to walk beside them.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

As I was graduating college, I realized I wanted to stay involved in the sport of basketball and I wanted to do that at the collegiate level. The main reason is I know how impactful those four years can be for young men who are getting away from home for the first time and for many, decisions made during those four years determine the type of man they will become.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I wake up at 5:50 and drive to work. From 6:30-7:30 I get a workout that includes cardio and strength. I'll then spend 30 minutes in Bible study. After that, every day varies depending upon commitments with players, practice times, university boosters. When I get home between 6 and 7, I have dinner with the family. We've made it a priority to eat together and spend time talking as a family every evening. My wife and I will then meal prep for the next day and spend time together.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

It doesn't matter how well I lead at work if I don't lead well at home. We spend so much time intentionally investing in "our job" that we sometimes forget or are too fatigued to be intentional with our leadership at home.

My daily relationship with Jesus has to be my first priority, followed by my family. When work becomes my main emphasis day in and day out, I'm opting for what ultimately is not success.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

Inside Out Coaching by Joe Ehrmann. The book talks about the difference in Transactional Relationships and Transformative Relationships. Far too many leaders are Transactional leaders, simply wanting their employees to perform so the leaders benefit.

Ehrmann asks four questions in the book:

Why do I coach?

Why do I coach the way that I do?

What is it like to be coached by me?

How do I define and measure success?

All four are extremely important questions, but the one that stuck out to me was #3, how does it feel to be coached by me?

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Learn that leadership is not about you, it's about the people you lead. Great leaders empower people and help them reach their potential. What are you doing daily to get to know, encourage and develop the people you are leading?

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

One of the qualities I most admire about leaders is when they know no job is beneath them. And being a servant-leader is what true leadership is.

For my job, we frequently travel with 30 people on busses. My boss at the time made sure he got under the bus and pulled out all of the luggage for everyone else.

That made a huge impact on me as a young leader. I don't need to try to prove my worth by getting people to serve me, I need to serve them regardless of my title.

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