Living the leadership life: Q&A with Justin Anderson

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - 5:00pm

Meet Dr. Justin Anderson, sport psychologist and leadership guru, who is the director of student-athlete leadership at the new Land O’Lakes Center for Excellence and its Leadership Development Center.

Q: What is your background? My background is in sport and performance psychology. I work with high-performing athletes, executives, and company owners. My company provides the in-house sport psychology services for all current student-athletes at the University. We also work with professional teams, locally and around the country.

Q: How did you land at the Leadership Development Center? When I was there as a sport psychologist, some of the coaches reached out and asked me to work with their team leaders or asked how to motivate their athletes differently. Because I have this connection point between athletics and leadership from executive coaching, and good institutional knowledge of our athletic department, I brought up the need for leadership development to the administration. They said it was very much in line with what Land O’Lakes is asking for.

Q: What is Land O’Lakes asking? They saw a tremendous need for student athletes, coaches, and administrators to have resources to become better leaders and people. So I put together a customized program that’s based on science and what we know from our corporate work, which shows that developing emotional intelligence is a key driver around great leadership.

Q: How have you gotten started? By surveying the head coaches and assistant coaches, followed by a similar survey of students about our program ideas. Our hope is to have alignment all the way through, from administrators to coaches to the staff and student athletes, so we create a similar language and culture across all athletic programs.  

Q: How is Land O’Lakes helping with this mission? There is no way we could have done this work to this level without Land O’Lakes. By sitting on our advisory board, Lydia Botham (Land O’Lakes Foundation vice president) and Peter Janzen (senior vice president and general counsel) will keep informing us as we develop programs and adjust and improve our process. Our goal is to continually learn and grow.

Q: How will the center benefit student athletes? This will be a tool to recruit high-class people who want to learn this leadership ability. We want to create more mentally agile and mentally strong athletes who can deal with adversity and stress. We know if we can help students learn those tools, they will be incredible leaders. I don’t think there is anyone doing that really well around the country.

“I put together a customized program that’s based on science and what we know from our corporate work, which shows that developing emotional intelligence is a key driver around great leadership...There is no way we could have done this work to this level without Land O'Lakes.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Justin Anderson, Gopher Athletics