Seth Godin has recently become one of my favorite writers. An international best-selling author, Godin focuses a lot of his writing about marketing. He is the most influential business blogger in the world (He has almost 300,000 Twitter followers.). I recently read one of his books that was published in 2011 titled Linchpin.


In Godin’s view the “linchpin” is the person in an organization (or someone who is starting their own venture) who loves their work, pours themselves into it, and turns that work into art. Godin calls “linchpins” indispensable. They produce work that is not on their job description but nevertheless they would be difficult to replace. As I was reading the book I couldn’t help but think of how “linchpins” relate to successful athletic teams. We often refer to them as “glue guys.” We love coaching them and we know that we need at least one of them if our team is going to win.

Merriam-Webster defines “linchpin” as “one that serves to hold together parts or elements that exist or function as a unit.” Similarly, Godin describes them as “people who invent, lead, connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos.”

After reading Linchpin I reviewed my notes and developed a list of the eight essential characteristics of “linchpins” for whatever team it is that you coach or lead:

1. Linchpins connect teammates with each other. – They organize team bonding activities and when problems arise between teammates, they bring them together and mediate.

2. Linchpins figure out what to do next. – Linchpins are leaders. Leaders focus on what needs to be accomplished next and establishes vision. They pick their team up after a loss and get them focused on the next game after a win.

3. Linchpins are not afraid to be in the limelight. – While linchpins must be humble, they also must be comfortable receiving attention, especially the criticism that often comes with the role of the leader.

4. Linchpins are not satisfied with being average. – Their focus for themselves and for their team is on producing.

5. Linchpins are optimistic. – They do not dwell on the negative. They look forward to what is ahead and visualize success.

6. Linchpins think about failure differently. – Linchpins learn from failure. They use failure; they don’t let failure use them.

7. Linchpins give their gifts. – We have all been blessed with a set of gifts that we can share with others. Linchpins give their gifts to their teammates. And never stop giving.

8. Linchpins have been taught how to lead, but actually lead very naturally. – Their charisma pervades all of the characteristics already mentioned. Contrary to what some may think leaders are developed. The linchpin knows how and when to use those leadership skills with his team and it happens naturally.

Please feel free to share these characteristics with members of your team. Maybe it will foster some positive discussion amongst team members and your athletes will gain a better understanding of the necessity of teams having “linchpins.”

Resources Mentioned in This Blog
Book: Linchpin http://www.amazon.com/Linchpin-Are-Indispensable-Seth-Godin/dp/1591844096/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376274002&sr=1-1&keywords=linchpin

Website: Merriam-Webster http://www.merriam-webster.com/

Question: I have provided a list of the characteristics of a “linchpin.” What other kinds of actions and behaviors does a “linchpin” bring to your team?


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