Officials often do not look at themselves as leaders. But when you think of the different roles we adopt over the course of a season or career, you realize we are constantly providing leadership. Whether it be as a head official, local association president, trainer, assigner, volunteer or any other number of positions that an official may fall into, everyone at some point or another will be asked to lead.

A veteran NBA official once told me that there are three E’s to leadership: excellence, empowerment and enthusiasm.


Being a leader in officiating requires the desire for excellence — not just of yourself, but also of your crew, your local group and even national organizations.

Setting goals for yourself and your crew are an integral part of being a leader. If you strive for excellence and expect the same of other official, you are a leader.

It’s not about being better than anyone else. It’s about being better than you used to be.


This is just as important as the desire for excellence.

As a leader, you must empower others to make decisions and support them in their decisions, if you agree with them or not.

The ability to trust fellow officials to make the right call, trust your local group to represent you and trust your national organization to implement change is critical to effective leadership.

Empowering someone means trusting them and supporting them on their path to excellence.


This is what brings the other two E’s together.

As officials and as leaders, we have to be enthusiastic about the job at hand. We must be able to communicate, work together and do it with a passion. Others will feed off of this enthusiasm and use it as their own motivation.

We all need to be leaders, on and off the field. Once that whistle blows to start play, we don’t have time to determine who is and who isn’t a leader. If we can all work on being better leaders, we will all be better officials.

There will soon come a time when you will be asked to assume a leadership position. Do you have what it takes, and are you prepared to be that leader?

The integrity of the game is in your hands.