Has the defending Southeastern Conference Champion lost its focus and direction? With both players being rising seniors, some are questioning the lack of leadership qualities possessed by Marshall and Mincy. It’s important to remember that leadership is primarily defined by results. These results can manifest from positive as well as negative experiences. In the case of Mincy and Marshall, they cannot be expected to command until they learn to comply.
Because leadership is frequently result-oriented, the assumption is leadership equates to success only. In reality you cannot formulate success without understanding the formula for failure. They need to discover and define their weaknesses and faults in order to become stronger and triumphant. In a nutshell, they cannot be expected to rule others if they fail to rule themselves.
Nick Marshall displayed leadership skills on the field and in practice during the 2013 season, but his failure to regulate himself this off-season resulted in a poor decision off the field. Though he cannot erase recent events, he still maintains control over his response to his mistakes.
There exists a myth regarding leadership in that leaders are born, a genetic factor being implied. In most cases it is acquired and developed rather than instinctive. True leadership normally comes down to growth, maturity and development. Success is derived from individual growth and once you become a leader those whom you assist in growth define your success.
The final chapter in Marshall’s leadership role has yet to be written. He now has the opportunity to turn a blunder into a positive example of growth and perseverance. In the end he will be judged on whether or not he bounces back rather than the slip-up itself.
There will be those who will state that Marshall already received a second chance when he transferred to Auburn, but there are no boundaries on how many times a person can show resolve and determination. My father once told me a conductor who leads an orchestra must eventually turn his back to the crowd. He must zone out the off-field distractions as he would an opposing crowd during a game. The primary key to leadership is influence and Marshall still possesses the ability to influence his teammates. He must realize he can’t simply set his goals to become a leader, but he can become one by his actions along with the integrity of his intent.
If Marshall and Mincy fail to respond to their mistakes in a positive manner, they will always be remembered for their lack of compliance. Their mistakes off the field do not have to be cemented into history. Though this clearly was not the path they envisioned, the opportunity is still there for both players to redeem themselves. The redemption process won’t be easy and it will assuredly begin with them. The goal at this point cannot be centered around the opportunity to play on Saturdays, but to be held accountable for their actions so they can eventually demand the same from others.
Jonathon Mincy is shown during spring practice.
Great leaders exhibit character and maturity, but character is rarely established or extinguished based on one event. Individual character is built upon the ebb and flow from life experiences. What Marshall and Mincy have been accused of will likely bring into question their character, but it should not define it. Only the course of time will reveal the leadership ability and character of both student-athletes. Both players are probably guilty of living for the moment, typical of youthful adults. This doesn't mean their actions should be condoned or overlooked because they both surely realize more is expected from the two.
Because Marshall is the starting quarterback, he becomes the face of the 2014 Auburn football team. His recent actions have brought scrutiny to his ability to be a competent leader. Both Marshall and Mincy will soon discover character defines the actual person they are while reputation is merely the perception of what others believe. Both players have taken a step backwards, but there is room to move forward and they have a terrific supporting cast to guide them in the right direction. Their coaching staff and fellow teammates are disappointed, but are prepared to rally around Marshall and Mincy to provide support.