Getting fired from a job could be the worst and best thing to ever happen, according to Brian Agler, class of 1980, who gave a keynote talk about the intangibles of leadership on Feb. 1. He gave an audience of business and sport management majors, alongside some fellow coaches, some key ingredients to be a successful leader.
“Know how to deal with difficulty and adversity,” Agler said. “Learn from it.”
Agler, now in his fourth year as head coach of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, explained that, despite winning a national championship, he was fired from his head coaching position with the Minnesota Lynx.
“There is no correct path from point ‘A’ to point ‘B,’” Agler said. “Whatever your destiny is, you can get there from [Wittenberg].”
He may be in his late 50s, but Agler still has been considered one of the best WNBA coaches with four total national titles under his belt, along with over 300 wins.
Agler, an interactive keynote speaker, singled out men’s basketball head coach Matt Croci, class of 1994, to further explain that students may not get where you want to go on your first try. Croci, head coach at Kenyon for seven seasons, took leave from his passion to coach and moved to Florida for his wife’s job. Later, after his return to Ohio, he volunteered as a coach at Wittenberg, and eventually moved up to the head coach helm two seasons later. He volunteered, Agler emphasized.
“Your path is going to be different than others,” Agler said. “For you to be successful, you have to lead yourself.”
Beyond adversity, Agler said that culture, vision, pursuing greatness, talent and knowing the end result are key to successful leadership.
When it comes to knowing where to go next, Agler said not to get complacent.
“I block, block and block people on Twitter because I don’t want them to interfere with my game,” Agler said.
Because Agler, like Croci, played basketball for the Tigers, he wasn’t afraid to pick on Croci again. Agler said he continues to follow the basketball team’s success, and said that praise is just as distracting as critique is.
“Focus on the moment,” Agler said, “Do your job and good will come.”