On October 31, the sophomores of the Buccino Leadership Institute had the opportunity to meet Anthony Bozzella. Bozzella is a 1989 graduate of Seton Hall University, and the fourth women’s basketball coach in Seton Hall history. He brought 21 years of collegiate head coaching experience to South Orange, after spending the previous 11 seasons at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y., where he resurrected the Gaels’ program into a perennial contender in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
To open his speech, Bozzella asked students to define leadership. The consensus: leadership is the action of guiding people in an organization to a common goal. Bozzella then told the class to “lead in the way you’re most comfortable; if you try to be someone else, they’ll see right through you.” For example, he has a proactive and multi-faceted leadership style, but others have a more relaxed and calm leadership style. Bozzella explains that it is fine to want to be competitive and lead your team to success, but each leader should do it in whatever way fits them best. He summarized that the most important part of being a leader is creating trust with the team. Without trust, almost nothing is possible.
As a leader, one should give the same effort to the team as one would expect from them. So, if one wants their team to be accountable, a leader must be accountable and demonstrate to the team what accountability looks like. It is also important to know how to talk to each person on one’s team. Some team members can understand a mistake right away while others might need guidance to realize what the mistake was and how to fix it.
How does a leader get to know how to talk to each person on their team? That goes back to being trustworthy, Bozzella shares. Creating relationships with each team member will go a long way and benefit the team in numerous ways. It also matters that a leader understands where each person on the team comes from. A leader cannot help a member of their team succeed if they do not know what else is going on in the members of their team’s lives. This trust also comes from simply being prepared. It is easier to create relationships and trust when one is being honest and is prepared for each meeting and ready to adapt to possible changes that may happen in a project.
Another part of being a leader is being able to adapt to society as well as one’s team. When there is a shift in society, it is important to notice and find ways to reposition a team to be successful after that shift. “As a leader, you have to think outside of the box,” Bozzella explains, which helps a leader be able to adapt to any changes that may arise. It also helps for a leader to make sure that every person’s job is important. A team is made up of many people, and when one person starts to decrease the effort put into that team, the rest of the team starts to slip up as well. As a leader, one must make sure each team member realizes that they have an important role to play in the team. One way to make sure that the team is successful is for everyone to set goals and standards, thus creating a collective goal for everyone. As a leader, it is then one’s job to make sure that everyone accomplishes their personal goals. This, again, creates trust, as Bozzella explains that “if the team doesn’t believe in you, then no one will be successful.”
Bozzella was then asked a few questions at the end of his presentation. One of the most impactful questions was, “what has been the biggest change in your leadership style since you first started?” Bozzella explained that now he is more experienced – his passion is still there, but now it is more like a marriage. Since he has started, Bozzella explains that there are better players, more aware players, and changes in the game. Again, he reminded the students that as a leader, one must be aware and be able to adapt. Teams will face struggles, but as a leader, one must be able to help your team make it through. Bozzella left the students at the Buccino Leadership Institute with these departing words: “Where there’s change, there’s opportunity,” reminding all to keep pushing through any adversity that leaders may face.