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Leadership Is a Privilege

Bob Delaney (center) with General Martin Dempsey and General Robert W. Cone.

“Leader-ship is a privilege” are words I heard from U.S. Army four-star General Robert W. Cone. Bob Cone is my friend.

I met him after the 2009 Ft. Hood shootings. I was contacted by layers of military personnel stating names and varying ranks/titles asking if I would be willing to share my post-traumatic education and awareness message as part of their healing journey. When General Cone called, he never said his rank. It was simply “Bob, this is Bob Cone at Ft. Hood, we need your help.” Bob and I had numerous conversations after that first phone call. He brought me to Iraq and Afghanistan to visit his troops. He wrote the foreword for my book, Surviving the Shadows … A Journey of Hope into Post Traumatic Stress. He was the kind of man most men hoped they could be.

He provided leadership lessons without holding class. Bob Cone was Humble, Authentic, Brave, Intentional, Tenacious … take the first letter of each of those words and you have the word HABIT. Bob Cone had leadership habits. He died all too young at 59 of cancer. My wife, Billie, and I attended his Arlington funeral. An amazing tribute to a fallen warrior and hero. I visit Bob at his final resting place every time I am in our nation’s capital, section 34 grave 135. His leadership lessons continue even in death, because on that grassy hill to his left is a Private and to his right is a Sergeant. True leaders make Humble, Intentional, Authentic decisions and are with their troops, not above them or away from them. And the etched words on his gravestone “Leadership is a Privilege” remind us of the privilege we have to be leaders in our spheres of influence, like local and state officiating organizations.

I speak for every member of your NASO board in saying, thank you for the privilege of serving and we look forward to a successful year as we go toward Alabama for the 2020 Summit.

Stay healthy, stay safe and take care of each other!

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Bob Delaney is a retired NBA referee and former NBA vice president referee operations/director of officials. Currently he is the SEC special advisor officiating development/performance. He is also an author, speaker and consultant with the military, law enforcement, sports teams and corporations. NASO presented him with the 2003 Gold Whistle Award and a Great Call Award in 2011.