Insights and Observations
Friday, September 19, 2003
By Henry Hinton
Broadcaster & Owner
of Greenville Cable 7
Dysfunctional leadership nets
The hot new book for people in business is Jim Collins’
Good to Great, a book about how to carry a businesses or organization
to a higher level of productivity. In Good to Great, Collins
investigates those companies that have made the leap. In all cases,
leadership has been the key to success for those that have achieved
greatness, while a lack of leadership and/or poor management have been
decisive for those that have not.
A lot has been said about what has happened to East
Carolina University and its athletic programs in the last two years. ECU has
certainly taken a leap, but not from good to great.
Collins says that great leaders (he calls them Level 5
leaders) demonstrate a compelling modesty; shunning public adulation; never
boastful. They channel ambition into the organization, not the self; and set
up successors for even greater achievement in the next generation. This
sounds like anything but what has happened in Greenville in our recent past.
ECU Coach John Thompson has a difficult job ahead.
Rebuilding the program will take great time and patience. Unfortunately, he
will have to do it during the rockiest of times in the history of our
Many have asked how things could get so bad so fast?
Did the previous coaching staff stop recruiting? Was there a subversive
effort underway to take the program down? Did people stop caring?
Some forget that players brought into the program in
recent years like Paul Troth and Vonta Leach were among the most highly
recruited players in ECU history. The Pirates won recruiting battles for
both of these young men as well as for many others on the roster today.
People close enough saw the effort going into the football program at a high
level each year.
What happened at ECU should never have taken place. An
undermining of authority. A lack of communication. Management that was less
than candid on a daily basis. Ultimately, a showdown in which there was
chosen one winner and one loser. What appears to be bad leadership at many
levels. There were many warning signs.
To their credit, there were those in the community and
our Board of Trustees who saw the growing problems and tried to act early
on. Most in a position to help, however, ignored the signs and allowed the
program to swirl downward.
The result is a program which is fighting for survival
on and off the field at absolutely the most critical time in its history.
Conference USA will most likely break up in upcoming months and our
university’s athletic programs are not currently positioned to move forward.
Our program now finds itself with an interim director of athletics and an
What has been learned from this unfortunate debacle
should be evident to those who have funded the incredible growth of the
program in recent years. We should remember that this is our university.
Administrators come and administrators go.
We must demand close oversight from our Board of
Trustees. Currently there is not one Pitt County resident sitting on the
board; another indication that much of the information being received by the
board is most likely coming exclusively from the administration itself.
The leadership deficit that has occurred has dealt ECU
a serious blow derailing our aspiration for greatness. Hopefully, the
lessons learned will have some affect on the future. There is much at stake
for all of us.
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02/23/2007 10:12:22 AM