For John Herdman, coach of the Canada men’s national soccer team, leadership is more than guiding a group of people.

“[It’s] getting the best out of yourself every day, being clear that it’s a process that never stops,” says Herdman, in conversation with RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney. “…And when you stop getting the best out of yourself, you’ll stop bringing the best out of people.”

Herdman says that as a leader your first job is to challenge yourself, and by doing that model the way for others. Your second job is to invest in those around you.

And while talent is an important element in a person — whether soccer player or farm hand — Herdman says there’s a character element, too.

“I think you have to constantly believe that — that when you work with people, there’s always more to come, you can bring more out of people, people can bring more out of themselves.”

The pit

Herdman uses the metaphor of a pit, to emphasize the importance in going where it’s uncomfortable, developing leadership skills through vulnerability in both relationships and work competencies.

“The pit’s just about growth, really — it’s about knowing that if we are going to reach [the]…highest virtues…you’ve gotta be rubbing against something, you’ve gotta have friction, you’ve gotta have tests in your life.”

Good leaders, he says, create pits for themselves, and for their people.

In this excerpt from RealAg Radio, recorded at the Grow Canada conference in Calgary, Alta., Herdman talks about leadership, his move to the men’s team, the motivation behind his coaching, and raising the profile of soccer in Canada.

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