During a time when effective leadership is needed more than ever, Miami Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores showed exactly what that looks like during a 30-minute webinar hosted by CFES Brilliant Pathways.

The March 23 event titled “Building Student Leadership” kicked off a monthly professional development series by CFES for College and Career Readiness Advisors. Flores, who helped the New England Patriots win four Super Bowls, shared leadership strategies for helping students to become college and career ready.

“To me leadership is about service,” says Flores. “On a daily basis, I’m trying to figure out different ways to try and help people succeed – coaches, players, equipment guys, training staff, medical staff. How do I help them become the best version of themselves?”

Flores gave examples of mentor leaders from his youth growing up in Brooklyn, while attending Poly Prep Country Day School before playing linebacker at Boston College. Among them, his first-grade teacher, his parents, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick and CFES Board Member Scott Pioli, who hired him as a scout for the Patriots in 2004.

“Education is very important to Scott, just as it has been to me and my parents, who came to this country from Honduras as immigrants,” said Flores. “They always stressed that the way to make a better life for yourself was through education, so when Scott brought CFES to my attention 16 years ago I was all in.”

CFES President Rick Dalton said Flores has helped CFES students become college and career for over 15 years. “Brian is a role model not just for our scholars but for all of us,” he said. “He embodies the Essential Skills.”

Just as he does with his players, Flores suggested that CCR advisors take the time to earn the trust and respect of their students before attempting to provide guidance.

“It’s about building a relationship and finding a way to connect,” he said. “There are very different types of leaders. Some are loud and boisterous, some are quiet and reserved, some are ra ra, some are just thinkers and say nothing, and when they speak everyone listens. They come in all shapes and sizes, but at the end of the day, you can’t lead unless people trust that you have their best interest in mind.”

When asked by moderator Tara Smith, CFES Vice President for Programs, what kind of leader he considers himself, Flores said it depends on who he’s trying to motivate. “Part of leadership is dealing with different types of people and pushing the right buttons for each individual,” he said. “Some people need that motivational speech while others need an arm put around them.

Flores said he tries to find areas in which his players excel on and off the field and work with them to foster those skills.

“My mom thought I could do anything,” said Flores. “I think as mentors, teachers and coaches it’s so impactful to instill confidence in our young adults and children. It goes a long way in building leadership and creating a world with young men and women who will do a lot to help others, and create a society that we all feel good about.”

Flores wrapped up the webinar by thanking teachers for their dedication to students especially during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“To all the teachers I just want to send my appreciation for the work you are doing as well as all of the people in the medical services, fire, police and doctors,” he said. “What they are doing right now is incredible, but specifically teachers who are at home working and finding ways to get information to the children. Thank you. You are very much appreciated.”