I'm starting this post with an animated GIF below. Email subscribers need to click through to see it. Do that now if you need to, because this post is based off the visual, and it's worth it.
Watch the GIF as it loops over and over. It's from Friday night in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, with Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie turning from an after game interview, seeing his team behind him and giving a playful slap with at least some level of intensity to a Freshman on his team.
Watch it closely. It's classic. Then watch the reaction of the team.
Some people are horrified by it. To me, it underscores a component of leadership mixed with results/success that is the following reality:
Succeed at a high level and you can lead whatever way you want to lead. Not because you're above the law (although you are), but because you probably got that way with a leadership style your team understands and values. If any action is consistent with that style, you're probably good to go.
It doesn't matter that the player got a slap on national TV. Ollie is the leader. The team reaction says it all. "Oh no, he didn't..." They know Ollie. The team's just succeeded on the biggest stage. It's no doubt in line with the behavior they see from Ollie on a daily basis. It's expected, and at the moment of their greatest success with this leader, it's embraced.
Results trump whatever we define as acceptable behavior. Maybe some year Kevin Ollie will be struggling and will do something with poor judgment to a player and he'll pay a price.
2014 is not that year. 2014 is another great year in UCONN hoops.
You think that was over the line? You can't touch Kevin Ollie right now for that.
The leaders who succeed on the biggest stage can do what they want for the most part. Until the success isn't there, at which point we'll treat them different.