Maintaining A Corner Man Mentality

Corner Man

The next characteristic of an invisible leader is a good reminder of the previous two: being famous vs. being great and not holding too tightly to relationships.

In order to do those two things well, it’s important to maintain a corner man mentality.

If you’re familiar with boxing, you probably know who I’m referring to when I use the term “corner man.” For those of you who don’t watch boxing, or haven’t divulged in the Rocky series, a corner man is the guy in the corner of the ring of a boxing match. Both boxers get their own corner man — you know, the guy with the water bottle and the towels, gluing Mayweather’s eye closed between rounds.

But the corner man is more than just a glorified water boy. Even though he’s not the one throwing punches, the fight could not be won without the corner man.

In an article on, a corner man is described as the following:

The corner man. So often in the shadows when the boxer succeeds and is more likely to be front and center when the boxer fails. Many would consider being a corner man a pretty thankless task. I’m sure that many of the greats have had real bad days at the office where they wondered to themselves why they bothered at all.”

Kind of sounds a little like leadership, doesn’t it? Sometimes it’s a thankless job. You’re not always going to be recognized for all that you do. And I’m sure you have those days when you think, Why bother?

Here’s something to remember when those thoughts creep into your head: The match can’t be won without you!

Once you start viewing yourself as the corner man, you start seeing the larger picture. It makes it easier to see leaders who have come after you rise to the top. It makes it easier to share the wisdom you’ve learned over time. Because at the end of the day, you’re the corner man. The boxer wouldn’t be in the ring if it weren’t for you!

So, what makes a good corner man? I got the inside scoop from the article I mentioned above, and I think some of them tie in quite nicely to good leadership. I’ll leave you the following to mull over as you relate it to your own leadership and corner man mentality!

Positive Reinforcement

“Reinforce the boxer with positive statements. The boxer wants to focus on victory, so I’ll say things like ‘Imagine that feeling of waking up tomorrow and thinking back on the fight.’ I won’t say things like ‘Whatever you do don’t lose’ or ‘My Gosh, just saw your opponent, he’s a monster,’ or even one that I’ve actually heard used, ‘Don’t worry, I can throw in the towel if it’s going wrong.’”

Objective Feedback

“… A good corner man does not show blind support to a boxer. This should be left to the supporters in the crowd. A good corner man remains objective and does not become emotionally involved in the fight.”

Targeted Motivation

“A good corner man finds the right words for the boxer and the situation. All boxers are different and some respond differently to advice and how that advice is given. Some respond to a stern rebuke, others respond to positive reinforcement and many will respond to a mix of both. The corner man finds the right words for the boxer and situation. The trick is to send the boxer back out there with the will and belief to win.”

Constructive and Timely Criticism

“The fight is over and the decision has been delivered. Whatever the result, a good corner man will have spotted some things to work on… Missed opportunities, tactical oversights, and unnecessary risks; all can be identified and used back at the gym — the keywords being ‘back at the gym.’

In the immediate aftermath, I like to allow a boxer to bask in the glory of a win or savour the unpalatable truth of a defeat without interfering too much in either. Experiencing these feelings is a natural part of the process of fighting, and sport in general for that matter. The last thing that a boxer needs in the minutes following a fight is a tongue-lashing from a corner man…”



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