The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born -- that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That's nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.
If Warren G. Bennis was correct in his assertion, then one thing that this team should not lack moving forward is leadership. The one aspect of Brian Dawkins’ departure that many fans fear is the leadership void that has been created. Dawkins was the heart and soul of the team, and steered the ship when the seas were rough. Look through Bennis’ eyes for a minute, and contemplate the reality of the situation. We need to remember that the other members of our defense got to play with and learn from Dawkins; some as long as six years, and I have to believe they’ve absorbed some insight from him. Let’s not also forget some of the tougher seasons that we’ve had in the past few years. If leaders are forged in the fires of adversity, then we should have quite a few stout ones ready to step in and fill our sudden void.
Over the past few days, we’ve had some debate on who would become the voice of the defense, and this seems to be a fairly hot topic. Quintin Mikell recently spoke to this precise point, along with some of his feelings about the departure of Brian Dawkins. Mikell spoke of the knowledge that he acquired from sharing a locker room for six years with Dawkins. He did, however, mention the realization that his mentor is now gone and that his presence will need to be filled, but he’s confident that we have the pieces to do so.
"I feel like I'm ready to take on a bigger role as a leader. I have to be," Mikell said. "You will never be able to replace what he did. I feel like with us having a committee of people who can set examples, who can put people in the right place that we can get the job done."
Mikell also mentioned some other possibilities to assume leadership roles within the locker room, none of which should be surprising to you.
"I believe Sheldon can be a great leader. I've learned a lot from Dawk, but I've also learned a lot from Sheldon," Mikell said. "You don't have to be the oldest one on the team to be a leader. Stewart (Bradley) can step in and say something. That's how you put together a team that wins. You have everyone."
The realization is that, perhaps it won’t be one individual who assumes the point role on the defense, but maybe a combination of individuals. Some of the now senior members of the defense, such as Mikell and Brown, mixed with some of the energetic youth in Bradley. This team’s image will not change. They will be the same Eagles that we’ve grown accustomed to.