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Joe Burrow’s lessons in leadership learned at LSU paying off in Super Bowl run

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Joe Burrow may not have learned to throw a spiral while on LSU’s campus from 2018 to 2020, but he did learn some occupational skills that are proving to be just as important as he makes his Super Bowl run with the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I take none of the real credit for his ability to throw football or his athleticism or his elite nature for that, but I do get to claim to be the instructor of record for the leadership development courses that he took as a student pursuing his master’s degree here at LSU,” said Leslie Blanchard, who taught Burrow in three different graduate level classes at LSU.

Blanchard, the executive director of the Leadership Institute of LSU, was Burrow’s online professor as he started and finished his Master’s degree while playing football for the Tigers during that national championship run.

She knew right away when Burrow showed up on her class roster who he was, and what it meant to have him in their program. “I was born and raised in South Louisiana. I am an LSU football girl, so I knew who he was when I got the the roster.”

“There’s elective coursework that you can take within the master’s degree program he pursued and he chose leadership. So you can tell based on that his intent was was likely to develop alongside his athleticism was to develop his leadership skills as well.”

Blanchard added that Burrow applies the lessons learned in the program to both his team building and speaking engagements.

“There’s both art and science to leadership. The science of it is being able to have an evidence base and a research base and being able to teach and replicate what it looks like when it’s well done well, and then the art to it is that everybody does it differently, what it looks like when it’s done. Well looks different for you and for me and for Joe. And so he was able to marry those two things really well. He did the work, he replicated the science, he dug deeply into the content, but then he also brought his own special thing to it.”

Blanchard made sure to not only give Burrow a great start on his leadership building, but to also get something to remember him by, convincing Burrow to sign his three synthesis papers or thesis papers for the three classes she taught him.

When she posted the signed cover letter on social media Blanchard received plenty of suggestions on what to do with the papers. 

“I started getting you know, you should frame that of course, that’s, that’s clear. You should ensure that that was mine. And then people offering me money to read it like I was literally offered. To, you know, you should publish this. I’ll pay you to read with the leadership that doesn’t favor like I’m sorry, first of all is illegal. And I’m not willing to sacrifice my job for that. Second of all, you see, you see it in action, every day. So actually walk walking through a thought process. While it’s probably really interesting, is also I don’t know how riveting it actually is.”

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