Dear Cam,

Dear Cameron,

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers

CHARLOTTE, NC – DECEMBER 22: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers drops back to pass during their game against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on December 22, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The purpose of my letter is to give you some feedback. Albeit, you didn’t ask me for it but I still feel compelled to speak up and to write this letter. Your team lost the Super Bowl on Sunday night. It wasn’t all about you, though you are a huge component to the team. And your performance as the quarterback can make or break a game. Your performance matters both on and off the field. Which leads me to my letter….

The loss on Sunday was a defining moment for your team and for you as a leader. How you handle the loss will follow you for the rest of your life. Losing hurts, PERIOD. There is no way around the mental gymnastics we play in our heads when we lose. The embarrassment, the frustration we feel, the second guessing, and the list goes on. I am glad you don’t like losing but you better figure out how to lose, because more lost games among other things are headed your way. You failed the test on Sunday at the press conference!

“When winning and losing affect you the same way, you will know you are beginning to mature.” The fact that you can’t figure out how to be civil with the media speaks volumes about you, not your team…you. The problem is you represent your team. Your immaturity is overshadowing the lost game. That is foolishness.

There is a reason your team lost the game. Denver’s defense played extremely well. Denver did their homework on the Panthers… Beyond the technical X’s and O’s, your team lost and each of you, you and your teammates have lessons to take away, individually and collectively. Grab the lessons, and reset, and begin again. The work begins today towards getting yourself back in contention to win the Super Bowl again. Acting like a spoiled brat doesn’t serve anyone. Especially you.

I am not a fan of the North Carolina Panthers but you sure had an opportunity to win me over this week. I watched the game on Sunday. I was cheering for your team with a bunch of young men who were die hard fans. They were very disappointed in the loss. What are you teaching those young men about how to handle themselves in the face of loss? What are you teaching the young ones who want to immulate you? Who want to be Cam Newton when they grow up? I would tell them to find another role model. So far you have failed as a role model. That matters!

You made it to the big game, the world stage…over 112 million viewers were watching. Many are still watching. You are a leader in training. You needed to lose the game on Sunday. Your behavior since then confirms that. You are not ready to win. Is it too late for you to redeem yourself? Absolutely not! You are a winner! Getting to the Super Bowl proves that. The fact that you don’t know how to lose will define you unless you figure out how to win or lose with grace. Neither of them should move you to the point where you can’t be civil, polite, and gracious in the face of losing.

“I have won, I have lost, I got it right sometimes and sometimes, I did not, life is a journey, I’ve seen joy, I’ve seen regret…” 

We all have lost. Maybe we haven’t all had public losses on the same scale as the Super Bowl but losing is losing. I dare you to rewrite the script. The lost game on Sunday doesn’t have to define the rest of your life. But you have to make an adjustment. You get to…if you plan to continue to play on the big stage of the NFL. Somebody raised you better. Your coaches taught you better. You know better! Get it together and move forward! I look forward to watching your journey!


Darlene Marshall


In The Absence of Leadership – Lead!

Leaders are defined by those that are following them. If no one is following you, you are not a leader. A man with no one following him is a man out for a walk by himself. It really is that simple.

By definition leadership means: the act or an instance of leading. A person or thing that leads. A guiding or directing head. In it’s simplicity, the bottom line is, if you think you are a leader, take a moment and look over your shoulder. What do you see? Is anyone following you? If you take a gander over your shoulder and there is someone back there I would say you are well on your way.

  • Leaders, lead. They don’t follow. They know how to follow but given the opportunity to lead, leaders lead
  • Leaders, lead. They don’t wonder about their leadership, they are clear they are a leader
  • Leaders, lead. They don’t defer to others – they lead

In the absence of leadership, lead. This is a Darleneism. It is something I say to those I am coaching to develop their leadership skills. Leaders inspire, motivate and persuade others to come with them along the journey. In whatever capacity you find yourself as a leader, you must take people with you. People are key to the success of leaders. Coercion doesn’t work. If people don’t trust you or walk in fear of you, you can’t take them anywhere.

So what am I trying to say?

For new leaders or novices – Leaders lead! You should know whether you are a leader. Typically no one has to tell you. It’s in you, even if you stumble along the way. Remember that leadership is about people, results, vision, trust and integrity. In the absence of leadership – lead! Don’t look around and see who else should step up. You step up when no one else is there. That’s how you gain the experience you will need. 

For seasoned leaders – In the absence of leadership, do what you do – lead. If you are seasoned, there is not much else I can say to you. Continue to sharpen your leadership skills. Make sure people are your priority. Ensure that you have clear vision and take people somewhere. Most importantly, groom new leaders. Novices need mentors. The best place for a novice to get a mentor is from someone who has been in the trenches. That’s you! Lead!


Welcome to Leaders in Training! This is my place and space for downloading my thoughts on leadership. I work with potential leaders and leaders everyday and I know there are things that come out of my mouth that help new leaders grow and develop into solid leaders. Hence the name Leaders in Training. My desire is to share nuggets on leadership that may assist the most effective leaders to the novice – the leaders in training.

You are welcome to ask questions, share your comments and thoughts and I absolutely love a healthy debate. Share your ideas and your experience as a leader. I believe we can learn from our successes and our failures, so if you are game, jump into the dialog and lets chat! I look forward to connecting with you on my journey to completing my book called Leaders in Training!