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“Servant based leadership is easy to say but hard to define.”

Often overused and oversimplified, the term “servant based” has become synonymous with what you see on motivational posters, hear in inspirational soundbites and even the word leadership itself. In reality, it’s just one of many styles. And because leadership is not one-size fits all, we’re talking to Greg Adamson about the importance of understanding the labels we use, seeking to understand the needs of the people we lead and finding strategies that best fit each context.

Greg is the Associate Director of Olympic Sports Performance at the University of Tennessee, where he works with swimming and diving, women’s soccer and men’s golf. During his tenure he has also worked with the football and rowing programs. Prior to UT, Greg spent time at Winthrop University with women’s basketball, baseball, men’s & women’s soccer, track and field, men’s tennis, and lacrosse and as a graduate assistant at Central Michigan. He received his Master of Arts in Sport Administration from Central Michigan in 2010.

In this episode we dive into:

  1. The importance of questioning terms, labels and assumptions before adopting them

  2. Why a one-size fits all approach won’t allow you to truly “serve” the people you lead

  3. The case for getting our hands dirty and the need for more “imperfect leaders”

  4. How to consider the role of the follower in the leadership equation

Connect w/ Greg:

Via Twitter: @UTCoachGreg

Via Instagram: @UTCoachGreg

Via  email:


Greg Adamson  0:00  

And I think that’s something that someone out there probably needs to hear today. If someone’s called you, narcissist. It’s not the end of the world, you’re making a huge impact, maybe rethink why they called you that, you know, and that’s, and I think that that’s difficult to hear because we like to act as if we’re not in this to win, you know, and that’s in college athletics, right. But that’s true in business. That’s true in schools. That’s true in public education. That’s true. in religion, if you’re at a church, we’re all competing, whether it’s for, you know, for an odd sense, it’s basically in sport, but we’re competing in something, and to shy away from it shies away from the expectations that we place on it. And now it can get really complicated and convoluted in the sense of, what are we here for? Because the mission is now not clear. Right? And when the mission is unclear, how do you even talk about your influence? What are you influencing for?


Brett Bartholomew  1:06  

Welcome to the Art of coaching podcast, a show aimed at getting to the core of what it takes to change attitudes, behaviors and outcomes in the weight room, boardroom classroom, and everywhere in between. I’m your host, Brett Bartholomew, I’m a performance coach, keynote speaker, and the author of the book conscious coaching. But most importantly, I’m a lifelong student interested in all aspects of human behavior and communication. I want to thank you for joining me. And now let’s dive into today’s episode.


Every year, if not every month, every week, and every day, we are bombarded with messaging regarding leadership, what effective leadership should look like how effective leadership should be implemented, the traits that we should look for in leaders, and how leaders handle their emotions. Yet, extensive research over the past half century has yielded a lot of different taxonomies or categories, if you will, and really a lack of clear results about what constitutes effective behaviors in context. Now, when we look at leadership, when we look at coaching, and I use the two synonymous, there’s even considerable disagreement about the appropriate way to define it and even assess it, it gets tricky. But one thing is for sure, many people in the coaching and leadership profession in general, regardless of industry, love to use the term servant based leader or transformational based leader. And it’s usually well intentioned, a lot of times these people are just saying, Hey, we’re in it for the right reasons. And we want to help people and we want to influence values and beliefs. And that’s great. But there’s also times where these things get used out of context. And we start getting really in tough situations when people talk about one type of leadership being the best. How do you know? How do you know others perceptions of your leadership style, just because you’re doing what some book told you to do, or some TED Talk told you to do does not mean it is the right leadership style, the right behavior for the right person at that time. And that is what we are going to dive into today. 


A little bit of looking at the sacred cows of what we view as ethical or servant based leadership. And those two aren’t the same. So don’t get it confused. Servant based leadership is a very type specific type of leadership style. And we define it within here. And I’m gonna let you guys decide for yourself. What I want to do is challenge you if you feel like you identify as this person that attends to the needs of those who lead and you want them to become just healthier and wiser and accepting their responsibilities and, you very much identify with education and nurturing, you might feel a little angsty. If that’s a word, you might feel a little on defense about these things. And listen, we’re not saying that those things are bad. We are asking you to be discerning when you listen to this, what we’re going to ask you is to keep an open mind. Now my guest today, he’s going to talk about some of the limitations of servant based leadership, because there are consequences. There are studies of course that show positive outcomes. But there are consequences just like every single thing that we do. And if we’re not mindful, and we don’t look at what the research says, and we’re not pragmatic, then we risk kind of creating this Neverland of naivete, where people think that they can just be inspirational and rah rah, and everybody’s gonna march to the beat of that drum. So I’m excited to have you guys today. And I know Greg as well. 


Now before I get to Greg’s bio, I did want to say thank you so much to those of you that have showed up and showed out for becoming patrons of the art of coaching podcast. As you guys know, this is something that we offer completely for free. We try to minimize the amount of ads or anything like that on here. We want to maximize your viewing experience and your listening experience. So if you want to support the podcast, please go to P A T E R O N, It really does allow us to continue to bring high quality episodes, high quality guests and allow us to be able to do this and dive deep.


Alright, let’s talk about our guests today. Greg Adamson is the Associate Director of Olympic sports performance at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Now, Greg has been involved with the Lady Vols swimming and diving program, he has been involved in a wide variety of sports. Under his guidance, the soccer team has reached the NCAA tournament on two separate occasions. Most importantly, Greg has over really overcome a lot of tendencies that he used to have as a coach, where he kind of fell in this easy to define servant base, you know, inspirational model, and, you know, full transparency, Greg did come to one of our workshops, and we talk about these things. And so he is somebody that, you know, I think, when we do these workshops, and we put people under the microscope, and they get peer feedback, and they do self evaluations, and we look at these different leadership styles, it can become conflicting, if you’re not open minded. But Greg really realized, hey, there are some issues that he thought he was having with other people that maybe he was the source of, and these are people that didn’t always respond to energy and enthusiasm, and, you know, just this inspirational kind of appeal. So we’re gonna talk about that today. And Greg really goes in depth, you know, it’s the thing I admire most about him about how he’s handled that conflict, how he learned to not get so defensive about it, how we learn to really kind of dive into the research. So I hope you enjoy this conversation, for what it is, again, if you’re gonna get defensive, you have to understand that that in itself is not an indicator of a strong leader, we all have to look at ourselves with a critical eye, we all have to look at past behaviors, current behaviors with a critical eye, there is a lot of leadership BS out there. And we are going to continue to attack that on this show. Because we believe that if you understand kind of the gray area and really where you need to operate as a leader, guys, it leads to so many great things less burnout, less pretending, you know, fewer really miscommunications and misunderstandings, you’d never want to try to be something that you aren’t Alright, enough yapping, you can tell that I’m passionate about this. But you know, we had to do some disclaimers, because every now and then we’ll do an episode and people get up in arms. And it’s because they’re identifying too closely to the subject matter material. So turn it up, get ready for a challenging, yet entertaining conversation. We’re going to war on servant based leadership.


Guys, you’re coming into a conversation with me and Greg Adamson? Greg, thanks for joining us on the show today.


Greg Adamson  7:47  

Yeah, man, appreciate you having me brother, I’m excited.


Brett Bartholomew  7:51  

You and me both. Yeah, I think we’ve already been talking about 30 minutes prior to our interview, and we’re locking and loading. And I know one of the things that you had said you wanted to talk about today, and I’m absolutely all into is, you know, this idea of servant based leadership and where that can lead us astray. And we’re kind of talking offline just to bring the audience into it. of you know, sometimes the sound bites I get thrown around in leadership and coaching and things that don’t make sense. And, yeah, I can’t wait to unpack this one. But, you know, tell us a little bit about what even got you on this kick, what what transformation you’ve had, over the past couple of years, how you’ve redefined what coaching means for you, and especially the role that communication plays within it.


Greg Adamson  8:36  

Yeah, no question, brother. I initially started with, you know, lions don’t lose sleep over the opinions of the sheep. It’s a quote that a lot of people like to throw out. And, you know, five, six years ago, I would have probably walked around beat my chest, and I’m not losing sleep over the opinions of the sheep. You know, and then I realize we all lose sleep, you know, we lose sleep over people that we like people that we don’t like and their opinions. And then I started realizing, what is my influence, if I’m really trying to lead, and then you think about, everyone likes to go with that sermon based mindset or sermon based leadership, it’s easy to say, but hard to define, you know, and I’ve never forget being in your class to apprenticeship and trying to define boom, you know, and it’s gonna stay with me the rest of my, you know, career and no matter what I’m doing as a leader, but it’s one of those things that we say a lot of these things, but we have a difficulty really defining them and living them out. And we kind of run from the concept of influence. So getting back to that initial quote, first off line, don’t eat sheep, you know, their preferred prey is like anything but a sheep. Second off like you’re not aligned, you’re not Dr. Doolittle, don’t tell me what they think. And third off, like, let’s stop, kind of going to this snap, grab team work in the doctor’s office poster, and really start trying to produce leaders that are going to have in the ability to you Use influence and said how you influence is you work on your communication skills, right? And I couldn’t tell you the amount of people that I’ve worked with or been around that are, man, you know, I’m just here to serve you. And then you sit there and you watch every decision and who are they serving and defining what they mean by serving. And so it’s kind of one of those things that I would say you spend about the first 1015 years, when you get done with college, you follow the traditional system, learning and you think you know, everything, and then you realize, you know, nothing. So what’s got me started brothers, I’m kind of on this phase, I just want to relearn the correct things. Right, and then share that.


Brett Bartholomew  10:37  

Yeah, no, I think that lends a lot of insight and context. And you’re right, I mean, you know, 2012 article by Gary Yukl. I remember reading this, and he was talking about, and this was a direct quote from his article, I’d written it down in my notes, 1000s of studies on leader behavior, and its effects have been conducted over the past half century. And again, this was 2012. But the bewildering variety of behavior constructs use for the research, make it difficult, and compare it to integrate the findings, you know, and what they talk about is that there’s additional confusion in the literature due to a lack of consistency of the use of categories, labels. And most importantly, a lot of them just focus on these traits, right. And when we talk about servant based leadership, and, the literature uses a lot of different definitions, but this idea is that it aligns with Transformational Leadership Theory, right, like, and I think we’ve all heard that, like, Are you a transactional leader? Are you a transformational leader? And just to give the audience insight, as Greg and I talked about this, you know, because I wanted to get to the core of a lot of like, what this research is, so people don’t get in their feelings, transformational leadership theories and approach to leadership that essentially posits that Leaders Inspire followers via these emotional appeals to their achieve their full potential, right. So they transcend their own self interest for the betterment of the team in the organization. They want to be seen as inspiring and developing and empowering. And like I said, it’s often described in relation to transactional leadership, where, you know, so much of that is, you know, less than that, right? It’s, more punitive punishment, corrective oriented leader behaviors, it can be even called, like active management. And, but like, when we talk about these things, it’s not about an argument of transformational transactional. It’s about that’s a gross oversimplification, right. Like, the only way for leaders to lead is not through inspiring sound bites and rah rah. And I’m all for a positive attitude in general in life. But I also think that it’s just been way overblown. As if that’s going to solve all these problems and leadership. There’s just people that don’t respond to that, right, like you’ve coached a very long time. Do all of your athletes respond to some just pep talk? And Hey, wake up? And let’s get the show going? Or is there some delineation there of different things that that really resonate with them?  


Greg Adamson  12:48  

I mean, you know, it’s funny, one things I would challenge a lot of people on is I think sometimes the pep talks are more for the coach, right? Whether it’s the coach, the manager, the CEO, whoever’s running the organization, whether it’s in the military, the commander, etc. Oftentimes, they’re basically trying to convince their ego and their insecurity that they’re on the right track, right. And earlier on in my career, you know, obviously, I have a lot of energy. I’m a positive guy, you know, me. You may not know me, but you spend any time with me, you know, I’m not gonna say it’s a half full, half empty, because I don’t like to just shorten it to that. But man, I have a passion for life, right and a passion to learn. I’m the ultimate beginner, but at the same time to sit here and think every time I stopped the music in a weight room, or maybe I’m somewhere else in a different context in a different way where I’m leading, that people are just going to navigate Oh, man, Greg said, D bag. You know, don’t be a bitch or whatever it may be. You know, it’s


Brett Bartholomew  13:42  

D bag Okay, I just caught up on that. I was like, okay, yeah.


Greg Adamson  13:47  

Come on, man. You know, I got all kinds of slogans. I got slogans for days, right? I mean, I coach and work with 18 to 23 year olds, it’s one of those things that I could probably out slogan most marketing guys right now. But at the end of the day, if you’re really trying to have influence, you’ve got to spend time, and that’s not discussed. And you’ve got to spend time learning yourself, and then learning what makes them tick. You know, when I sit down with a young individual, it’s what are your three things that you expect from me? That’s my first initial opening question. And they don’t even know how to handle the fact that they need to have expectations of the person that they’re now employing to be their coach. And they may not see like that, because in the collegiate setting, you know, and I know there’s people that listen to this that aren’t called strength coaches, but for context, when they get to college, they don’t really get to choose their strength coach. The Strength Coach is basically choosing by the university or the head coach, etc. But, you know, at the end of the day, I’m employed by them, and that’s my end consumer. And so I’ve got to know what are their expectations? And then I’ve got to build out a program to develop them based on those expectations. And I think what’s wrong and what was difficult with me in the past is when you just say, Hey, I’m gonna be a servant leader. I’m just gonna serve you, I don’t really teach you how to be an individual, you’re not independent. And so by the time you leave here, you can’t really run your own whatever it is I needed you to do. And so is that really leading? Or was that you just kind of going through the motions saying that you are leading? And so I think there’s a difficulty to define leadership, you know, if you said, Hey, Greg, how do you know whether or not you’re a good coach, I would tell you probably 30 years, you know, let me know, when you’re 58, whether or not I actually was able to do what I needed to do. And at that point, I don’t, I might be 88. And at some point, I’ll be dead. Right? But if that’s if you’re really talking transformational, how are you going to define that in six months? You’re not? I mean, it’s gonna take time. And that’s, I think the difficulty is we try and lead and communicate on our agenda. And we have this misnomer, you know, and so it’s kind of one of the things I’m on that path. That’s why I really appreciate you and everything you put out, and anybody that’s kind of discussing behavioral science, you know, because it’s something that no one really talks about.


Brett Bartholomew  16:04  

But you bring up a good point, you know, we tried, we did an episode in the past called, and thank you, by the way, that’s not taken for granted, nobody that has been as loyal as you are in terms of listening and interacting. And I want the audience to know, really challenging himself, you know, Greg, full transparency, Greg came to one of our apprenticeship communication workshops. And I think there was a real come to Jesus moment for you, metaphorically, where, you know, you had kind of talked about a way you would traditionally address a certain individual that kind of wasn’t on the same page and how you had leaned on a lot of traditional motivation tactics before and then you just kind of took a look at these things. And you’re like, is this really effective leadership? And, it listen, nobody’s got that figured out. I study it relentlessly. And that I think, if you if anybody was honest, right, despite all these books that are published, the issue is is not that people haven’t figured it out. Because it’s, I think it’s important to redefine, and this is one of our past episodes. Leadership is not about one person. It’s about how the context of the environment, the history of an organization or a team, and the stakeholders all interact to eventually form what’s called Leadership, right? It’s this shared thing. 


I think the issue is not, you know, necessarily all these academics getting in one room and figuring out what the term is. I think it’s the depiction of it. I think it’s a lot of the leadership BS where you know, how many stories do we hear about Apple? How many stories do we hear about certain people in different positions and how enigmatic they were in their fortune 500? Companies? How many stories do we but if you dive into this, and there’s some great books that talk about the behind the scenes stuff that goes on in these companies, the people that are often romanticized, in these books, these TED talks, and what have you really have a lot of darkness behind them. I mean, we’ve talked about Apple before Steve Jobs, it’s known that, you know, as as brilliant as he is, and this isn’t something denigrating Steve Jobs, it’s actually helping people see that there’s more than just serving basic leadership. This guy was known for yelling and getting after people, we have coaches that have done that. And, again, the skeptical listener is going to listen to this and think we’re talking about well, so you’re telling me a positive attitude doesn’t work. And making sure that you do it for something bigger than yourself doesn’t work. That’s not what Greg and I are saying we’re discussing is this idea of servant based leadership, or really, what we think it is when you review the accumulated research on transformational leadership and these things, which is the most frequently researched Leadership Theory over the last few decades. These studies, really don’t take in consideration follower characteristics, right, and how that moderates the outcome. So what happens when you have Greg, somebody that you lead, whether it’s in your life, or whether it’s in you know, what you do within the military, or what you do in elite sport, that doesn’t respond to that the guy that the athlete, the guy or gal, metaphorically that cynical, jaded, not bought in? What are you just going to motivate them out of their shoes are just going to show up for them and be like, I know, I want you to know, I’m there for you, Billy. Like,


Greg Adamson  19:04  

I mean, I think, you know, five, six years ago, you can just yell at him. Right? Like, you really just tried to probably hammer out the problem, right? The nail is not going in, well, you just hammer harder, hammer faster, and just think that it’s going to necessarily solve itself or its them. Right, like you got to get out of here. I’m not gonna deal with it move on. And that’s just not long term. That’s not going to work. No, no, we now live in a society where you can’t just do that. But you know, I’ll say, talking about the dark side. You know, I think we also one of the difficulties we struggle with is this concept of, there’s winners and losers, right? People don’t have to like you, it took me until pretty much being 35 Which is what I am this year to start being okay with, hey, look, we got like each other, you know, like, hey, we do the same job. We have the same impact, but we don’t gotta be boys, and I’m okay with that. You’re world class and what you do whatever it is, and I have respect for you, but to think that we’re gonna hang out and get breakfast, I’m cool, I can get breakfast by myself like, I like a good cup of Starbucks with no one around, I’ll be alright. And I think that’s the other difficulty we struggle with through this whole process is, what I found is when I was younger trying to impress, you know, in my setting, I think everybody can relate to it a little bit differently than what they do. But if you’re trying to impress your servant based or whatever it may be tight leadership style, and to impress people, you don’t know, you’re not leading the people that you are in charge to lead. And if you’re not challenging them, and not challenging yourself, vice versa. I mean, so I got a young man, engineer, he’s soft spoken, I mean, just amazing person. And, man, he hasn’t responded to any rah rah thing I’ve ever done. So I started bringing him in by himself. And I got to know him. And I mean, he loves video games he loves just how do you put things together? And as I got to know him and started having those type of communication with him, man, I couldn’t find anybody I love more, you know, but that, you know, five, six years ago, he fell through the cracks, because I wouldn’t have been looking out for Hey, man, how can we broke it down as a team? You know, I’ll leave you with this as well. Everybody’s watched sports, they bring it down family. The last couple years, I don’t like to break down family at times, because family doesn’t mean a positive colleague



Brett Bartholomew  21:23  

You  mean, when you’re You mean when you’re breaking down, like in the locker room or before a game saying the name family? Kind of okay, got it? in unison? 


Greg Adamson  21:29  

Yeah. And so the context everybody puts their hands in your family? Well, you would say, well, family implies good, right? Not to some of these kids, not to some of these athletes family is something they’re trying to get rid of. 


There’s a valid point, I mean, well, and and that goes into this idea of right whether somebody says, because you know, it’s gonna ruffle some feathers when they hear this. Another thing that’s used often in our profession is athlete centered coaching. Right. And that’s this concept that describes, again, the highlights the coach’s responsibilities to the athlete, and then that deals with the well being of the athlete, right, which includes assisting them to achieve their highest possible performance, you know, offering programs that aren’t injurious all these other ideas, you know, but I think if something’s really athlete centered, then that means it adapts to that person in the individual. you see, you can’t say I’m athlete centered, and I’m a servant based leader, because not every athlete is going to want that, you know, not every person is going to want I mean, listen, I didn’t play professional sport, but I box competitively. And I know that I didn’t want some coach, like kind of hugging it out, like I just, hey, let me know what I need to do speak frankly, to me. And let’s get going. And I’m not insisting anything, anybody is ever on this show, that there’s one way to coach we’re insisting that there’s the opposite. And that’s why we talked about this, I just think that it’s ruffled a lot of feathers, this idea that there’s this lack of leader member exchange theory, and we’re all just supposed to serve. And I think if there’s one thing it’s like, it’s not about the qualities of a leader as much as it is the fit or match between them, you know, are people going to tell certain leaders around the world right now who are being successful, who don’t meet this servant base model, who don’t meet this positivity based model, but are having great success and cultivating great relationships? That they’re wrong? You know,  how can you do that I have two guys in particular that come to mind that I know, like, they just don’t respond. They actually feel that when people lean into servant based leadership, and that transformational style, that it’s almost kind of, you know, to distract them. And I remember asking him one time, I said, Well, what do you mean by that? And he said, Well, I just feel like that’s the easy side, man. And he goes, it’s not that it’s not important to be positive. But that can’t be all you rely on. You can’t just say, Hey, we’re going through some struggles, you know, just stay upbeat. Like, at some point, it’s got to get in there. And so what I’m saying is the evidence suggests that leadership is relation oriented, right? Like, it’s between multiple people, we know that. And that means you’ve got to match it within that social situation. And those things, Greg, if you and your family are going through a tough time, and heaven forbid you lose somebody, I’m not gonna be like, Hey, me, I just stay positive. Like, that’s not what you need to hear right, then is it? I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, do you need somebody?


Yeah. And it’s one of those things that it’s funny. So, you know, my story a little bit. So for the audience’s sake at 33, I went to basic training, joined the National Guard, I have a successful career and I enlisted I have a master’s degree, most people would expect you to triangle officer route. It’s just not as simple as that. And it was kind of one of those decisions that took a huge step. So I’m sitting 33 years old and basic training. I’ve spent the last 10 plus years coaching college athletics, and I am rethinking everything I ever thought about myself in leadership. Right. Because as I’m walking through it, you know, our MTI man he was definitely not a positive guy. You know, there was no roses and no chocolate milk and etc, like it’s the most difficult situation in the world, but you learn to build relationships, you know, and I had to basically rely on an 18 year old to help make my bed, right. So if I’m in charge of laundry, on the laundry chief, he needs to help make my bed so I can get our laundry done. And everything set up for you to fail. And I hadn’t failed that much and over a decade, right, because you just fail every step along the way. And that’s part of learning to develop as a leader. But there was times where a rah rah speech isn’t what’s going to help you learn because at the same time as the stresses of life happen, how intentional he was that MTI, at basically, MTI stands for Military training instructor at setting us up for success long term, he knows you’re gonna go out of there never probably want to talk to him again. Right. And some people may, you know, but it’s one of those things. I think that that’s kind of where it hit me. And so to your point, yeah, you know, it’s, I don’t want to talk about it’s going to be okay, you want to kind of maybe work through that loss, right, and be open about and be vulnerable about, how is this really going to impact me? What is my next step. And I think the difficulty is, you know, we see mental health issues on the rise. And it’s something that is a highly discussed topic, very rarely, are we willing to be vulnerable about our own insecurities, and thus, the people that you lead, they’re not going to be vulnerable back to you. And so when the time comes, that you do need to challenge them to kind of press on them that relationship was never developed. And so it’s one of those things where if I always serve you till the time, I need you to maybe go outside your comfort zone, you’re probably not going to go outside that comfort zone. but I don’t have time to not wait on you, you know, and it’s, you know, I think that that’s kind of one of those things that it’s what’s tough for me is it’s difficult to watch. People say, you know, that person’s bad, or they’re dark, and this person’s light, and they’re bright. And if you really look at it, the best leaders of all time, had a little bit of both 


Brett Bartholomew  27:05  

They’re at the  gray area. 


Greg Adamson  27:07  

Yeah, you’ve talked about that. I mean, it’s one of those things that I like it to, it’s hard to find a good leader that didn’t have a little bit of both wanting I mean, so it’s kind of like, how do we develop that ourselves?


Brett Bartholomew  27:21  

Well, that’s the key. Right I think it’s really interesting. when you think of, like, use of light and bright and dark and what have you. What’s troubling to me is that we have people that are leaders that are saying there’s a one size fits all kind of way to lead here, right and that’s typically been the servant base transformational base piece. We have lost, child going to daycare picking these things up. We have lost and appreciation for the fact that leadership approaches, at least the good ones, depend on the situation, right? Let’s just unpack this. Because if somebody is like, Alright, guys, I hear you, you don’t like servant based leadership, right? What else? Right. But like, it’s not that you don’t like it’s that it’s not sufficient with other contextual contingencies. Let’s imagine you have somebody consider cultural differences. like consider the industry type, right? Like, I’m not gonna, when I go in and work with corporations, or certain aspects of the military, or, you know, certain individuals, I’m not going to be the same way to all of them, am I going to listen to them Sure. Am I going to show compassion? Sure, am I going to seek to understand, but those things aren’t just the isolated discernment based leadership, that’s just isolated to being a decent human being. But there’s organizational characteristics, there’s task core characteristics, there are some people, Greg, you would imagine, aren’t motivated to do something not because they lack motivation. But because of the complexity of the task is difficult for them. Right. They’re frustrated, they don’t know how to do these things. They don’t need a speech. They need somebody that can guide them and facilitate. But that doesn’t come in, let me show you. That’s just not pure empathy. You don’t overcome task based difficulties just on pure empathy, right, the nature of the goals. So for example, think of this like, and this was one of the more interesting research articles I’d came across in previous years, is there are some goal when we talk about servant based leadership, ignoring the traits of the follower, as the research would call it, what they’re forgetting is that there are subclinical levels of narcissism that the world’s best have. And so when you look at transformational leadership or servant based leadership, and how it does when it’s paired up against people who actually don’t respond to like you said, family or team, right, like there are some people that very much are in it for themselves. There are people that want to be the fastest in the 100 meter dash. There are people that want to be number one at what they do, they want to get the knockout right like a boxer. Is it like yeah, they have their their coach and what have you. But like, like you said, it may not be about the teams, I could not get in a huddle. And imagine that just thinking about bigger team goals is going to motivate everybody in that huddle, and that if it doesn’t, those people are wrong. That is just a very naive way to look at these things. What did I miss there? What what really kind of resonated with you about that?


Greg Adamson  30:25  

I was gonna say it’s okay to be a narcissist. I think being a narcissist. About three years ago, my best friend from high school comes into town watches a football game me him, Sarah, my beautiful wife, we go out for, you know, a couple of drinks in the meal. And we’re just talking about, you know, different athletes that I’ve had kind of move on and what they’ve gone on to do and I’m pumped up, man, you know, my last two swim camp captains are now both Rangers one’s an officer one’s enlisted. I take great pride in watching our individuals go on. And I don’t hide from the fact that, you know, for me, it’s about giving the ship and at the end is championships. It’s about winning. Like, I don’t hide from that. But man, I was pissed when he called me narcissist. This is my best friend. This is someone I love. My wife’s mad at him for me, you know, she’s got my back. And we’re all sitting there, then I started thinking about it. Is that wrong? Like he was pretty correct to some of the things he was saying, because you better be right, I take pride and we’re going to win a championship. I want us to win. You know, but I think that, because of the culture that we set, I felt guilty for being that. But why was I that I was that because I took pride in the fact that our athletes move on. And when I told them, hey, if you come to the University of Tennessee, I don’t want you to just to win while you’re here, I want you to win as a mom and dad, a husband, a wife, a CEO, a school teacher, you’re going to be in the top 1% at whatever your endeavor is, because that’s what it’s about. We’re going to build relationships, but there’s going to be some ownership hardship, right leadership, and then championships. But it’s not just the same, it’s going to be live throughout it. And I’m going to know whether or not you go on to winning, you know, I mean, it’s one of those things that because you start looking into these things. And I think that’s something that someone out there probably needs to hear today. If someone’s called you narcissist. It’s not the end of the world. You’re making a huge impact, maybe rethink why they called you that, you know, and that’s, and I think that that’s difficult to hear, because we like to act as if we’re not in this to win, you know, and that’s in college athletics, right. But that’s true in business. That’s true in schools. That’s true in public education. That’s true. And religion, if you’re at a church, we’re all competing, whether it’s for, you know, for an MMA sense, it’s basically in sport, but we’re competing in something, and to shy away from it shies away from the expectations that we place on it. And now it can get really complicated and convoluted in the sense of what are we here for? Because the mission is now not clear. Right? When the mission isn’t clear. How do you even talk about your influence? What are you influencing for? And I think that that’s all you know, and it’s this, it’s this awkward phase of, you know, obviously, our profession, but I think it’s an awkward phase of what leadership education is going to be. Right. 


Brett Bartholomew  33:17  

And that’s a really good point well, and talking about education to defining things, I want to go back to the narcissist comment, because this was something that I read about years ago, and kind of led me down an interesting path, because I wanted to get to know the meaning of these terms, right, at least, because we think of these things as categorical, if you are a narcissist, people and I wrote about this in conscious coaching, there’s a difference between a trait and a behavior, right. And a trait is something that’s stable. So if you are narcissistic, with respect to trait, that means in every situation, you are that person, right? And we’ll define narcissism here in a moment. A behavior is something that’s selectively deployed, right. So an individual could be very, very altruistic giving, loving all these things in one part of their life. And then when they go into the competitive arena, elevated narcissism due to those things. It is not a categorical thing. It’s a dimensional thing. And so I’m going to read a little bit because I think it adds to your point, from some of the literature that people look at this, if they haven’t read my book, or they haven’t seen some of my presentations on this, you know, they talked about one personality variable, and this is narcissism that’s received very little attention within the follower context, meaning like, hey, how do leadership styles match up? Because again, my key argument is leader, the most effective leadership is situational. It’s adaptable. It’s contextual. That’s my core argument. Right? And so trying to say about the fit narcissist, and this is according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM four narcissists tend to exaggerate their talents and accomplishments, and they believe they are special and unique. Alright, well, we need people that believe they’re special or unique, otherwise somebody is not going to perform brain surgery. Somebody’s not I’m going to be the one that wants to take the victim with 50 stab wounds, somebody’s not going to be the one that treats the aggressive form of cancer or you know what, maybe the one that undergoes the cancer treatment that doesn’t think, you know, they’ve heard the stats, and they don’t think they’re going to make it through but they’re going to keep going right? And according to the DSM four narcissist possess grandiose feelings of self importance require excessive admiration and have a sense of entitlement. Now, that is clinical cases of narcissism that’s trait based, that is not subclinical, right, when we have subclinical aspects of these things, that is essentially what researchers look at as an elevated form of competence or what pop science would call super confidence, right? How’s that for a term? But, you know, since it hasn’t, it’s occupied a role in leadership literature, but it’s focused only been on like, pretty much a leaders, not followers responses to different leaders if they have that. And so, there are like anything in life, Greg, right, varying degrees of traits and behaviors, there are varying degrees of narcissism, I’m sorry, if I have to go get a very complex surgery, I need a surgeon. And by the way, surgeons rank higher on traits of narcissism. And, things like this, some of the world’s best surgeons rank high on these and actually low in empathy. But I need somebody that thinks that they are the best, they are the person to take on this role. And so I just think it’s really scary. When we have coaches and leaders using terms that they don’t understand. Narcissism is bad, servant based leadership is good. You don’t know what these things mean. And you have to understand that they’re situational, to tell an athlete to imagine yourself going in there and dominating the opponent, man, the right to go in there. And these guys can’t stay on the court with you, right? Or this firm doesn’t stand a chance our pitches locked in our research is backed up, guys, these are things where they’re telling you to go in there and act and think as if you’re the best. That’s subclinical narcissism.


Greg Adamson  37:05  

I mean, we do it every day. Right? Like, I mean, and it’s one of those things that like you just even defining that better helps me grow. You know, because it’s one of the things if you’ve ever spent time with me, you know, for so long. I did my thesis on on my master’s degree on positive reinforcement and coaching. So I took a deep one basketball team, I took all their coaching, recorded it all they didn’t know, the athletes didn’t knows watching, obviously r&b and all that stuff was good. And I wanted so bad for positive reinforcement to be the preferred style of reinforcement. Right? Yeah. And what I found is the only preference they had at the end of it all was reinforcement. Positive or negative, they just wanted to be coached, they struggled the most when there was no feedback. They didn’t care as much if the feedback was positive or negative. But my bias, right initially was because I’m a positive guy. I can’t be old Greg, on in life. And boy, without being who I really am, you know, and so I am a positive guy, and I do really care. But at the same time, I have to understand I got to be given feedback at all times. If I was working with those athletes, because that’s what they were preferring. And so I think that’s the other difficulty as well, as we like to box positive and negative feedback. You know, and I started thinking, Who defines what’s positive and negative,right?  


Brett Bartholomew  38:29  

It’s, normalized within that individual and how they. You know what I mean? Like, I want somebody to your point, to give it to me, raw and real. Now there’s certain people that can handle that. And that’s, you know, great. Like, I can’t handle that sometimes to a degree, and I still ask for it, right. But I normalize it, right, me getting that kind of feedback now at this stage in my life. And what I know from putting skin in the game and multiple avenues is very different than how I would have kind of normalized that at another time. And you mentioned family, some of these kids come from families that are broken. And, you know, they had a very stern mother, or what have you, that maybe was the guiding light, and that mom didn’t just love them up, right? Like we looked at the concept of tough love. Okay, well, now is that certain, basically, but you can’t just say anything that is effective. And anything that is ultimately like long term, altruistic in the name of the athlete or individual as serving basic leadership, you have to be clear about the saying, because it’s all contingency based. It’s all adaptable, like people have to get clear on the terms they’re using.


Greg Adamson  39:32  

Yeah, I mean, you said tough love. I like to reverse those words, love tough and have that conversation with anybody I work with. And it’s because I have this love for you that there’s going to be these tough standards that you’ve got to meet. Yeah, right. But I have to define what love is. And so then that’s going to lead to that type of conversation. And, you know, I think early on in my career, and I would challenge a lot of people out there leading I didn’t put enough stock in having these type of conversations. And with whoever I was working with, right, I just assumed that they knew what I meant. I just assumed that my whistle and rah rah and let’s go, we’ll just kind of absolve anything that wasn’t clear as we moved forward.  that’s wrong on my part. Right.


Brett Bartholomew  40:21  

No, go ahead. Finish. 


Greg Adamson  40:22  

No. I mean, yeah. And so I mean, I think it’s like, we talked about trust is the foundation of any good relationship. Right? Well, we I like to challenge my athletes on do they trust me, and I liken it to, you know, everybody loves to play. I mean, I love Chipotle. I mean, it’s, it’s a go to, and if you don’t love Chipotle, that’s okay. Right. But a lot of our athletes love Chipotle, you trust them. And there’s instant pause, right? And because they’re thinking, man, you know, they had some bad chicken somewhere. And I’m sorry, if Chipotle listens to this, you know, you can feel free to reachout  


Brett Bartholomew  40:55  

because they sponsor the show. Shout out to Chipotle for sponsoring the show. I wish.


Greg Adamson  41:00  

Yeah. But in all seriousness, right, like they’ve had some mishaps that have ruined the trust of what you might be getting. Right. And instantly, the athletes have to then understand love and trust. And so we can talk about the context of the words, right? And how do you define trust? And that’s one of those things that do I really trust them, if I trust them, and they talk to me about something that’s going on? And for context, you know, in my world, it might be man, my back hurts, or my foot hurts, or my ankle hurts, you know, and obviously, the listeners not in athletics, it could be something different. I’m not really getting that concept for the elementary teacher, whatever it may be, right? Well, I gotta trust that they’re telling me the truth. I can’t just say, No, it doesn’t, or you will be fine or do this, and it’ll fix it. I got to kind of really dig into that. I think the difficulty with the modern leader is are we really willing to dig in to that type of conversation?  that’s hard work. Right, that requires time that requires energy that requires it may not work. And, you know, I think that’s kind of the flip side to that, you know, and that’s the difficulty, you know, and I hope people hear that message of as you progress throughout your career, whatever you’re doing, right, I get the opportunity to be in the National Guard. So I get to be in the military, I get to work in college athletics. But whatever you’re doing is are you consistently working on your communication and your ability to influence? Right, because I think that’s another word that I had a bad context on. Man, that guy had a lot of influence. Well, what did he use the influence for? And but more importantly, how did he develop that influence?


Brett Bartholomew  42:39  

Yeah, well, and now not to cut in but now people use what people think of that term is like influencer, so people that have an aversion to social media thing, influences your psychological ability to bring about change, right? Or like how you bring about that change. If you look at power, as defined in the literature in this space, powers, one’s absolute ability to bring change in one’s psychological environment, influences is a tool, right? So like, again, man, it just comes down to I think, so much of where we’ve gotten to, is people not understanding the terms are using and being research based in one part of their field, but not in another. And in us, we saw that in streaming conditioning, like, again, like, how can you say that, you know, your job which is underpinned by communication. And while I once heard a quote that well, connection is more important than communication, try connecting without communicating, right? Try connecting on the highest level, right, like So wait a minute, you and your wife fostered a connection or your significant other but Greg, I know you’re married, you and your wife fostered a connection, telepathically. You didn’t communicate? Right? Like you weren’t able to? And because we just and I think about these quotes that go into this, and we do something now on the show, where we do this gray area where we give like a cliche, quote, we tell people hey, are you where it’s right? Are you where it’s wrong? Because we’ve gotten so singularly defined, and that it’s dangerous know the term power and influence know what these things and and understand anybody that has this idea of, well, you shouldn’t do that you shouldn’t challenge people. Listen, there’s this idea. And it’s pretty straightforward when you look at something called the Pygmalion effect, right? How do expectations shaped behavior? And, like you look at this, where high expectations tend to lead to improve behavior or performance in a given area. But that’s only if those people are confident that they can perform the task. If my wife is asking you to build a deck in the backyard. I’m not a handy guy. Can I figure it out? Sure. Is it my passion? No. Is it worth my time right now compared to other things? No. So that my confidence is going to be relatively low. But if she asked me to do something says hey, I have high expectations for you know, this next course or how you do this or an event or what have you. You better believe I go into an event with some level of subclinical narcissism feeling like I’m the right guy to talk about this. I’ve locked this in and I’m going to have a positive impact From the people I lead, because I care so much about these things. Right. So your point about influence is just well made where people just are getting emotional about terms that they don’t understand.


Greg Adamson  45:11  

Yeah, I mean, you know, and to your point with the quote, I have a domain, it’s now in med school. He’s going to be a wonderful doctor. And I once had the, you know, the whole burn the ships quote, we’re gonna burn the ships. Well, he goes, you know, the rest of the story coach. 


Brett Bartholomew  45:27  

Yeah. Tell them tell them this is great.


Greg Adamson  45:31  

And he’s like, You didn’t know they went on to rape, you know, all the women and killed all that. 


Brett Bartholomew  45:36  

Yeah, that’s not great. By the way. I didn’t mean that was great. 


Greg Adamson  45:38  

Yeah, but no, but that was the story, right. And I’m sitting here, typical collegial environment, we’re getting motivated for the week, we’re gonna burn the ships, so we have nothing to come back to. And, you know, that’d be no different than a marketing manager or, you know, a sales force or whatever, just getting his whole team pumped up, we’re gonna go accomplish this task. We can’t come back to it. And he’s sitting there like, Hey, Coach, the context is, you know, that is you might want to never use that analogy ever again, or that quote, because if you study the historic side of it, you know, so I sit here, I’m like, oh, man, let me go look this up. I’m like, this is horrible. You know? And it’s another moment in your career, right? Where you grow, hopefully, right? It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to do these things, because that’s how you grow. But at the same time, do you think I’ll use that quote again? No, because the context is not correct with what I’m trying to accomplish? And then I think about it a little bit more on like, why did they burn the ships that’s kind of a terrible like, they had nothing to come back to like so they just gonna get killed if they don’t win the war. Like there’s no retreat  that doesn’t seem very tactical.


Brett Bartholomew  46:42  

And to give you guys historical context, this was you know, what, like 1500 1519 Cortes right landing in like Veracruz, I remember we had kind of that’s weird that I remember this, we had to discuss this in a class A long time ago. But you’re right to begin his great conquest. And it historically it didn’t go down. But that but that’s the thing, right? Then that’s my knock on sermon based leader like this. And maybe you know what, maybe it’s just the popularization of it, right like that, that I have a problem with this idea that other people are broken, and it’s our job to fix them. You know, I had gotten some heat in my book where I said, it’s not your job to prepare, you know, the athlete in every single way for the path, you know, or the path for the athlete, like to a degree. You know, there is this piece here where people have to have accountability over their own journey. They do, like we need people to be self reliant. And so here’s what I think. You don’t really have to burn the boats, by the way, you don’t have to burn the boats. But like, what I think is that there are so many coaches out there and leaders that are trying to justify their place their paycheck, or even their own inadequacies in their own mind. And I’ve had them too, right. I always talk about it on this podcast, just about anything I criticize, I’ve been guilty of right. So nobody needs to. I’m not some person that thinks I’m perfect. If you’re just listening to this podcast, go back. And listen, I criticize myself a lot. But I think there’s a lot of people that justify that. Am I doing enough? Am I good enough? Am I helpful enough? It’s pervasive. And so they use sermon based leadership to justify this almost kind of a cleanliness, you know, where you have to remember the job is not, they they shouldn’t need you like my wife. And I, you know, I had a friend one time that said, you guys have an interesting relationship. And I said, Well, how do you mean, and my wife and I will joke back and forth in a locker room sense. We’ll call each other names, that if you don’t have that kind of locker room, she was a coach to, you’re gonna be like, Oh, and one of my friends was like, You guys just talk to each other different and you’re really independent. I go, and that’s why it works. My wife and I have a great like, we have a great marriage. We love our son, do we get an arguments? Without a doubt? Do we have issues without a doubt? What have you, but like there’s this other side of my wife and I that if both of us if I was 34 today and single, I’d be just fine. Right? Now of course, I’m gonna choose my son and my wife over that I love him. But I’m saying alternate universe Brett, right? Marvel Cinematic parallel universe Brett? And my wife is the same way. She’s like, you know, like, yeah, I would want kids and what have you, but like we were good together. Because we were good independently on our own. No relationship flourishes, no person flourishes. If there’s this pervasive need to lean on somebody else to serve them. It’s doing it gives me goosebumps, that I mean, what about your, what relationship is that good to have this idea and listen, my wife’s family is avidly involved in their church. But when I asked him one time, do you feel like it’s more of a servant based thing or a service based thing? Like why had never thought about that? Right? We’re providing a service that’s why it’s called a church service. Right and, I don’t know it’s just it gets oddly biblical and I believe in God so I’m not getting in these. I sorry, Greg. I have to like make these comments because otherwise people come at me with pitchforks, but it just gets oddly He steered in a weird direction where people are trying to validate something that ultimately kind of reinforces reliance, which I don’t think that’s good leadership.


Greg Adamson  50:09  

Yeah, no. And I mean, I think the Reliance thing, you know, it’s really evident, obviously, in our profession, you know, and as our profession grows, which is strength and conditioning, but it’s going to have to change, right? Because at some point, they’re going to, there’s so much information out there now that you’re almost like trying to, if you’re not vulnerable, and you don’t know something that is more appreciated, then you could just kind of make something up on the spot. Right? And I mean, I’ll use this for context when you talk about the Reliance thing, man, I suck at golf, right? I’m not


Brett Bartholomew  50:45  

me too Top Golf, I’ll crush but everything else.


Greg Adamson  50:48  

And I’m working with our men’s golf program. We’re a top two your program. We got a couple guys hopefully end up on he PGA Tour and all those things


Brett Bartholomew  50:54  

careful with the narcissism careful with the tone down the narcissism.


Greg Adamson  50:58  

Well, I mean, you know, it’s SEC it’s Rocky Top


Brett Bartholomew  51:02  

too much narcissism 


Greg Adamson  51:04  

I’m just recruiting a little bit. 


Brett Bartholomew  51:05  

You’re supposed to say, Hey, I’m humbled servant base leader in it for the right reasons not about the money first. And last out. Keep going. Greg, where else what else you got? Put them all out there first. Not about me first. Yeah, like Yeah, okay. Keep going.


Greg Adamson  51:20  

Yeah, I mean, we had the best season we’ve had over 12 years last year. Anyways, um, you know, I’m out there at the course. And I’m trying to learn how to golf again, right. And the guys love that I suck. Like, they love helping me, you know, and I thought about I’m like, why am I good at what I do. And oh, my god, the ultimate beginner. Like I was in the pool with some of our pro swimmers. I work with the same thing. I’m like, teach me as if I was six. And they’re laughing and having a good time.


Brett Bartholomew  51:45  

They started feeding you Cheerios and stuff. 


Greg Adamson  51:47  

Yeah. That’s a good idea. I’ll tell them to start branches.


Brett Bartholomew  51:52  

They give me slow days bringing Cheerios or like, Hey, come on Greggy.


Greg Adamson  51:56  

But they don’t want me or need me to be the best golfer or the best swimmer. Yeah, right. They need me to be a great performance coach and help their performance. So let’s not get it twisted. But they also enjoy the fact that I don’t try to talk to them in some way of when I swam this higher man, and I got it out. 20 miles, let me tell you, Erica Brown, Miss American record holder. Here’s how you should really do freestyle.


Brett Bartholomew  52:18  

Yeah, one size fits all, one size fits all. Yeah.


Greg Adamson  52:22  

And it’s so I do think that like with that Reliance thing, I don’t want him to be relying on me. Right. And if they, I would want them if they could train with anybody in the world, that they would still come here and train. Right. That’s got to be the way that we set the culture. But it’s difficult. And it’s okay. And that’s the other thing too, I would tell people, it’s okay to not be good at something. Like I don’t know, where along the line if you were a strength coach, and this can be similar in business, right? So you’re a CEO, you had to be an expert in every category. Where did this start? Like, who started that? Like, oh, man, I’m gonna see you, I must be great at it. 


Brett Bartholomew  52:55  

And if you research all the, if you research CEOs, and you actually look at this, and not just CEOs, great book, I recommend everybody checking out called a first rate madness, written by a psychiatrist who dives into the background and medical history of JFK, Mahatma Gandhi, Abe Lincoln, all the you’ll listen, the greatness is in the gray area, people are gonna get really uncomfortable having to realize that, you know, but there’s a reason even our country is so divided, right? Like, and like, look at the extremes. The extremes on either end are not good. Nobody wants to be all dark. Nobody wants to be all light. We are missing gray area, and in this country, and in this world, because people don’t want to get their hands dirty. People want to be seen as perfect, right? You get heaven forbid, Greg, could you imagine if you ran for president? Like you would have to worry? Did somebody find a picture of you on Facebook and this and that, and like I’ve talked about this? What are we expecting from people 


Greg Adamson  53:50  

I thought about running for president side know, based on the debate last night, and then one of my thoughts was, well, I really didn’t vote the first couple of elections and that would be found out so I’m just gonna go ahead and open that up now for when I do run for president. You know, Greg didn’t vote initially. Right. I had to be educated and learn and credit my wife Sarah. And so we’ve gotten that clear. So when I do run for president, you do write me in. We all know now that obviously, I didn’t vote. The first couple of elections I had the opportunity to I apologize, it was 18 and 20 to 23 whatever everybody


Brett Bartholomew  54:21  

everybody go after Greg everybody go after Greg but like, I want to go back to what you said a moment just to reorient because you said you know, you and I’m sorry. I can’t remember the exact terminology poor listening. You said I’m a constant beginner right. I always have kind of this blank slate. Did I hear you right? 


Greg Adamson  54:36  

Yes, it ultimately beginner. 


Brett Bartholomew  54:38  

Thank you ultimate beginner. So that is a huge take home for our audience. I hope people understand this. And I know we have so many research base people here. So when I read research off I’m not doing this to try to seem smart or what have you. Like again, if you follow me, this is the space that I’ve really been going into and I’m trying to inform people in a helpful way right. So again, I’m gonna paraphrase here The accumulated research shows that some of the universal traits that leaders possess that are repeatedly associated with effective leadership because that’s kind of what we’re talking about, right? Greg includes persistence, tolerance for ambiguity. And if people if you guys don’t know what ambiguity is, that means again, it’s like, you’re not really sure what to expect, right? There’s this element of chaos to add ambiguity means something’s not clear. And you have to kind of figure it out extemporaneously. Self Confidence, right? Again, subclinical narcissism as defined by some elements of the research, Drive. Integrity, an internal locus of control, meaning you feel like you can impact things, and it’s not only somebody else’s fault, and then just some level of cognitive ability, and you could even argue creativity, the ability to take available resources, and do something with it, creativity and resourcefulness are locked in. Now, what people did not hear there is it doesn’t talk about how you just have to be nice, or there’s a certain level of how talkative you should be a non talkative. There are certain countries that negotiation, they’ll barely talk at all. And other countries, you know, they want to bring everything to the table. There are some countries where again, positivity is great, we have romanticized it in Western culture. There are other countries, if anybody’s listening that’s done business or coaching China or what have you. It’s great, right? But you also have to know varying levels of it, because they don’t necessarily want motivational, happy, you know, guru guy over there, hopping around. And again, this is contextual. But guys, can we just appreciate the difference in people? At the end of the day, what we’re saying here is, there’s no one size fits all. So why do we romanticize one thing, and then make somebody who there are people Greg, that listen to his podcast, and I know you’ve heard him because you saw him at the apprenticeship. Just the other day, somebody said, Listen, I don’t feel like I can even be a coach anymore. And I go, why not? And he goes, I’m introverted. I’m not really somebody where the sun shining every day, you know, I’ve had a hard life. And that’s made me a strong person. And I just don’t believe that, like, you know, basically, always holding out a hand to somebody is the best way to get them to figure out these things on their own. And it seems like that’s what the industry wants. And I go, what the industry wants, what you perceive it wanting, and what people actually need, are very different. I hope there’s people out there that are listening that feel like they don’t fit in. That’s what we need. I didn’t feel like I fit in because I’m a man who had an eating disorder that was hospitalized at 15 at 96 pounds going into a profession of alpha males, you know, and then I wrote a book about it. And guess what? People came out of the woodwork with the identity to do drugs. They had had exercise disorders, they had had depression, they had anger. Greg, are there things in your life that you’ve overcome? 


Greg Adamson  57:39  

Yeah, when I read your book, it was an instant relief to me right here I am working in college athletics. You know, been doing it for over 12 years. Obviously, I wasn’t a college athlete, man. But I was barely a high school athlete. I had four knee surgeries. First one started my freshman year of football. Then I had one my sophomore than my junior year. I never got my day in the sun, my 50 yard line, Tim McGraw song with the girl, right. Like I was known as crutches, you know? And that crutches. Yeah, man, that’s, you know, and so my knees are probably some of the worst these you’ve ever seen. And then you look at the career I’m in. And once again, I’m as average as they come 5’10. You know, for the listener, you can’t see me, but I’m 5’10 195 


Brett Bartholomew  58:20  

pure Adonis. 


Greg Adamson  58:22  

Yeah. You know, so you got to overcome the fact that I’ve never been the best athlete, right? I’ve never been the sixth sixth guy. I’ve never been the first round draft pick. I’ve never been this and that. And so I thought to myself, Man, it’s okay, that wasn’t these things. And that’s where your book and your story helped me realize that, you know, because my athletes, they love knowing that I just care about how I’m going to help them get better. they don’t need to know about my, you know, whatever it may be. And it’s interesting, you know, that self reliance thing, it’s funny being in the guard, I had to leave my athletes for eight weeks to go to basic training. You know, I get three phone calls for 15 minutes. It’s that right? I already told you guarantee I was strict and he didn’t like us. And my flight really wasn’t the most. We weren’t the most efficient flight and getting anything done. So we got bare minimum of everything, right? I tried to file fire my laundry crew, and that’s a story for another day. But I was definitely told no. Anyways. So I called my wife so I never talked to my athletes. And I trusted the staff here and I got back and man I looked at it, they didn’t miss a beat. Right? And I can look at that is me, they kept going without me. Or I could look at that. You know, there’s someone out there saying, Man, how’d they do it without me. I was so pumped up that I had obviously done the job that and they did the job listing which is more important, but at the same time, like I did a great job teaching. I can’t shy away from that as I get older, because they didn’t necessarily need me and then I left again this summer, right and I’m gonna leave again in a couple years probably for six months and it’s one of these things where if they’re relying on me what happens when coach Greg leaves did I really teach you know Don’t Have you haven’t thought until they’ve learned with Java when it said, but the way a lot of us live in the sense of leadership is they can’t exist without. 2020 leader? you haven’t taught and so they’ve learned if they’ve learned, they’re not always going to need you. And that’s scary. Because if your ego is tied to that, what happens? 


Brett Bartholomew  1:00:21  

Don’t be a parent. Yeah, don’t be a parent, right? Like I want to be a part of my son’s life, every breathing moment I have. But you know, I also am not successful as a parent, if I don’t createan individual that is not dependent on daddy and mommy 24/7, right like  Bronson is going to have to grow up and he’s going to have to do he’s going to deal with there have been moments in my life when I couldn’t have felt more alone. Right. And those things are also when I learned how to have the most clarity. That’s definitely what made me a Wolverine type of archetype is I actually started to embrace that I’d, I’d stay up late, and I’d run at night when nobody else was around. I really, you know, not to sound like Bayne like, I was born in the darkness, like not like that. But I definitely did become comfortable with the solitude at night because it just brought back so many feelings. And I think that goes into you know, we’ve talked a lot about this term servant. And I’m sure there’ll be plenty of rebuttals. But I also think it’s just you know, it’s a future episode because we don’t have time for it here but authentic. And I’d really challenge anybody listening, that your rationale for choosing the term authentic should not be based on some again, cardboard, copy, cut out of what you think a great leader or coach is. Authentic is relative, again, to the elements of the leader, the follower or ers, and the context. Being authentic in different parts of your life is gonna look differently, being authentic when you have to, you know, stand up for something you believe in being authentic when you have to defend somebody, whether you’re your own health or what have you, you know, like self defense, being authentic when you’re leading somebody being authentic when you’re consoling somebody who has asked for a helping hand, being authentic, when like, that looks being authentic, looks so different, in so many different situations. Why is it just look one way in a motivational poster. This is doing nothing, this whitewash sterilised view of leadership is doing nothing but dissuading people who feel less than perfect. From stepping up and being a leader. It’s making people feel not good enough. It’s making people feel all these things. And it shouldn’t like we need more imperfect leaders, we need more dirty hands in the soil, trying to cultivate something that has trouble growing, and not by whispering sweet nothings into it thinking that that’s going to overcome everything. 


Greg Adamson  1:00:24  



Brett Bartholomew  1:00:26  

I blacked out, I blacked out. It’s cold time. It’s cold time. So let’s talk about this antihero. Alright, favorite villain or anti hero and why anti hero again, if you’re a first time listener, we’re talking about again, trying to get away from this romanticized thing of just super heroes, right? Like, everybody’s Great. Everybody’s awesome and great. It’s always great. If it’s not. There’s this great NutriGrain commercial on YouTube where it’s, they’re joking around, they need a NutriGrain bar and they goes, How do you feel? I feel great, and they just go nuts. But I’ve always been more of an antihero guy myself. Right. Who’s your favorite villain or anti hero? Greg?


Greg Adamson  1:03:31  

Yeah, I mean, you know, two things came to mind. And it’s, it’s terrible. I can’t think of the name. Do you remember the show about recycling? And they want a Captain Planet? 


Brett Bartholomew  1:03:41  

Oh, I remember Captain Planet. Yeah, that’s been a while. He had a crazy haircut, didn’t he?


Greg Adamson  1:03:47  

Yeah, you know, I think my favorite and i hero. You know, Don’t come at me i recycles Everybody calm down.


Brett Bartholomew  1:03:53  

I did too I’m Avid recycling, we have electric vehicles, please don’t come at us.


Greg Adamson  1:03:57  

But the anti hero of the fact that you had to create a show for that premise. Right? That just shows a lack of awareness as a frickin universe. That we’ve got to create the whole show to teach kids. It’s okay to recycle.


Brett Bartholomew  1:04:11  

But that’s influence right there trying to use available resources to you can hate on his appearance. You know,


Greg Adamson  1:04:19  

I like to play I like to but I’m saying like my favorite anti hero, I guess was just the fact that as I said, I don’t know where I’m going with.


Brett Bartholomew  1:04:26  

I don’t think that’s an antihero. I think that that was what I get concerned with and I hope everybody Google Images Captain Planet. What I get concerned with is thinking about I love the message frankly. But the guy kind of had a what was it Brian Bosworth type mullet kind of thing, which I’m not knocking on that. But he wore a crop top maybe a halter top. Really tight underwear and boots that could only be described as red leather. And I don’t know if you know that’s going to inspire everybody that we need. You know, he actually looks like he was created by Kevin Last but neither here nor there. Please look up Captain Planet. Join our Facebook group and hashtag Captain Planet and show your picture dressed up as him. That’d be terrifying. All right,


Greg Adamson  1:05:10  

Megatron. And the other one goes to Megatron. Obviously my son’s seven he’s really big in, you know, Transformers Megatron and that guy. I’m just curious, you know, I’d love to spend some time with him, because he’s so gung ho and Optimus Prime and the planet, but he’s missing the bigger picture. But I enjoy his ability to deploy a tactical force.


Brett Bartholomew  1:05:32  

Yeah, let’s be honest, he those guys have way better weapons than the good guys, which is, you know, why does that always happen? You know why it is because again, it’s got to inspire the good guys rise against the odds, they have a two by four. Meanwhile, Megatron has some world eating worm with mechanical teeth. And it just is like, all right. Speaking of the next piece of that, right, here’s the quote you have to argue against. And in many ways, we would both agree with this quote. So again, if you guys are new to this, we do something where Greg’s got to talk about why he agrees with it. And then why he disagrees. And we put people in really awful situations where like, they don’t want to disagree with that. But like, you gotta it’s just important in life to appreciate different viewpoints. Because one size doesn’t fit all. Are you ready, Greg? 


Greg Adamson  1:06:20  

Let’s roll 


Brett Bartholomew  1:06:20  

Greg. A leader is one who knows the way goes the way and shows the way I’ll repeat and this time in a movie theater voice. A leader is one who knows the way goes the way and shows the way talk to me about you which one you want to start with why you do not agree or why you agree


Greg Adamson  1:06:46  

I’m gonna go with disagree 


Brett Bartholomew  1:06:48  

hit it


Greg Adamson  1:06:49  

all right. So knows and shows and goes right that’s three different things. Yeah. To You know, if I were to think of a four star general he’s probably not on the ground with special operators. Right. So he’s not going to necessarily go the way but how 


Brett Bartholomew  1:07:05  

have you gone the way before Greg?


Greg Adamson  1:07:09  

That’s intriguing.


Brett Bartholomew  1:07:12  

That’s easy the foreshore generals gone the way before? Probably. Keep going Keep going. This is your show, Greg.  it’s okay to squirm right, like we’re putting it. But I would say the way that he went, here you go, I would say the way that he went may not work for everybody else, right, like fighting wars, in a certain era is very, very different than it is now. I mean, it’s well known. I remember an old Civil War General, and I’m sorry, my history’s sloppy right now studied, you know, Napoleonic kind of strategies. He had actually went and met with a member of Napoleon’s family and said, was really inspired by his fighting tactics. What have you tried using those tactics within? I believe it was the Civil War. It might have been this. Yeah. And, it did not work out. It didn’t work well, because the weapons obviously, that Napoleon fought with, very, and during that time, very different than the weapons that we fought with. And so just because somebody knows the way relative to their own experience, and had gone that way before, doesn’t necessarily mean that they understand the landscape as it is now.


Greg Adamson  1:08:26  

Well, there’s my argument for Thank you.


Brett Bartholomew  1:08:27  

That’s mostly the argument against Greg, this was really good. So that’s now your argument 


Greg Adamson  1:08:38  

Yeah, I mean, obviously, you know, I guess we’re struggling the way my mind works is what is this way, right? Like,


Brett Bartholomew  1:08:50  

not sure. My way? Is it another way? 


Greg Adamson  1:08:52  

Because the way it goes the way Yeah, seven o’clock, dot in the drop top, you know, cruising the streets,


Brett Bartholomew  1:08:59  

not in the crowd, not the Captain Planet crop top. Alright, let’s give you one more. And this one, you just have to disagree with. Leaders don’t create followers. They create more leaders.


Greg Adamson  1:09:14  

I mean, I think the difficulty with that statement is followership and leadership, right are not always the same thing.


Brett Bartholomew  1:09:24  

Well you have to be a good follower, to be a great leader, like I think following is under appreciated.


Greg Adamson  1:09:29  

Right? Like, you know, I mean, it’s one of those things do you get where I’m at in my career, right. So I’ve got a director, you know, Dan Werth is our director and for context, the world knows he’s probably one of the nicest human beings you’ll ever meet. And, you know, obviously, I wanted his job three or three years ago, and didn’t get it and we either had, you know, Dan, and, you know, it’s probably been one of the best things that’s ever happened to me as a leader, right, because I’ve learned to follow him and learn from him. I used to want to solve every problem and thought everything should be done. You know, use it in reference to looking to go for another job, say you’re a salesman, and you’re good at what you do you think you deserve the next step up, right? But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to quit the other salesman to do what they’re doing. And I used to think the same thing in coaching, you know, I deserve to be a director because, you know, my team’s win, or this goes on well, and I didn’t take a step back and say, How can I help develop? Right, and so I’ve been able to follow him and really grow as a leader. Right. And so that’s the, you know, and then the problem with that quote, as well is just like, you know, who are you saying it to? are you saying that to your followers? Are you saying it to people? You don’t know, That’s the difficulty of it, you know, the difficulty of messaging, you know, and that’s a whole nother conversation, but messaging matters. And so


Brett Bartholomew  1:10:51  

I think that’s a good way. And plus, going back to that other one, leaders know the way go the way show the way, well, hard to do that, again, if you haven’t been the one being led. And that was the example we gave, right? Like, if somebody does do that, chances are they’ve been in those shoes, which means they’ve been led to be a great leader, you must be a follower. And so I just think people don’t again, that’s what this whole thing is about is not understanding the role of the follower is, but not every follower is going to respond to a certain kind of leadership style. All followers aren’t created equal. And being a follower is actually essential in leadership. Guys, listen, Greg has given us more than enough time we could keep ranting. I think this was great. I think it’s going to challenge people. I hope it does. I know this stuff has challenged me over the years. If you guys kind of feel frazzled, upset, angry, whatever term you want to use, all good, but that’s okay. That means that like it’s touching a point within you. And we’re trying to do this in a positive well, not a positive way, but a purposeful way they go, purposeful. You also I just want you guys to get more context, listen to our previous episodes, coaching is improv. There’s Episode 47, which is about the leadership lie. There’s Episode Two on culture myths, facts and tips. You know, don’t react to one thing Greg said, Don’t react to one thing I said, Think bigger picture. The core of this is two people saying one size shouldn’t fit all in leadership. We need to understand the terms we’re using more we need to be more inclusive and the diversity of skills, strategies and things that we use. Greg, did I miss anything there?


Greg Adamson  1:12:15  

No, I love it again, you know, and I think side note, let’s get a little round of applause for our profession as we progress because, you know, 34 year old Brett 35 year old Greg, you know, 10 years ago, we’d have been discussing how single leg exercises prevent ACLs.


Brett Bartholomew  1:12:30  

Yeah, or I’d be doing the every time I do the asked me a question on Instagram stories, I have to prepare for that. What book should I read? Scary in and of itself. And again, talking one size fits all, there’s still so many areas we ought to grow, got asked a question the other day by somebody entirely? Well, meaning it’s just, you know, basically and said, hey, you know,  I’m not gonna be able to go to college, and, or I can’t get a degree and I’m not gonna be able to get a certification, I’m not gonna be able to do this. But I want to be a really great coach, what book Can I read that would kind of give me an equivalent experience of what I would have gotten in these experience. And I said, Well, wait a minute, you want a book that’s going to supersede kind of what you would have gotten in college and also a certification or licensure? Like, I can’t do that, like no book. There’s no book out there that can replicate that. Right. There are many great books, and I have a list of 204 of them, if anybody wants to read them, especially those of you that are just starting out in the field of training, conditioning, or what have you, or physical therapy or what have you. And there’s even books in there that are not those things. I’ll make one on general leadership as well. But I just think it’s problematic. We’ve got to ask each other better questions. We can’t say, What books should I read? We can’t say which path should I go? We can’t say these generalized things are how we’ve gotten here, Greg, these generalized things and they’re all well intention. But like people are looking for a path to follow. And that path is yours to cultivate and build, but I’ll keep going. Greg, where can people reach out to you? I would encourage you to give your phone number over the year. Yeah, I think that’s


Greg Adamson  1:14:01  

yeah, myself. 803-389-0068. Instagram UTcoachGreg, Twitter UTcoachGreg, email, you know, I mean, all my information is public at this point, right? I mean, I work for a public university, you know, my addresses none of your business.


Brett Bartholomew  1:14:22  

I was just say I’m, I was joking about the phone number. But you were there. I love it. Greg Adams. And listen, man, the I appreciate the candor. I appreciate the humor. I always tell people I don’t want to do an interview on this podcast, I want to have a conversation and you were one of the most easy people to converse with. So I can’t thank you enough.


Greg Adamson  1:14:38  

And I really appreciate your time and love what you’re doing for not just the profession, but for so many people out there. I think struggling with terminology in regards to what is a leader what is a follower, what is communication look like? And I mean, I’m just forever grateful with what you’re doing with art coaching just because it’s one of those things for me is you know, like I said personally to Three years ago, I was said that I was a narcissist. And anybody that had spent time around me knows how much I truly love anyone I’m around, you know, and I believe in diversity, inclusion and open communication. But yeah, there’s a slight side to me that believes that what we’re trying to do is grand right and so it’s just people like you that kind of help people like me continue to progress. So man, hats off to you and your crew.


Brett Bartholomew  1:15:21  

I appreciate it man, guys, until next time, the art of coaching podcast, please leave a review tell a friend. Talk to you soon.

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