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Posts Tagged ‘football’

Would You Listen to the Rookie?

September 28, 2010 4 comments

Leaders listenFive minutes left in the third quarter. The other team has cut your lead to just three while you haven’t scored in the second half. You’re on the nine yard line. You can taste a touchdown. Your 13 years in the NFL have given you a sixth sense.

Just then, a rookie – an undrafted rookie who was grabbed off the practice squad yesterday to fill in for an injured wide receiver and is playing in his first NFL game ever – comes up and suggests a play. He wants to improvise a route and have you throw him the ball.

What do you do?

If you’re four-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl winning quarterback Peyton Manning, you listen. That’s what happened on Sunday when Blair White approached the seasoned quarterback in the huddle. “My guy’s playing me inside. I think I can get him on the slant and up.” Manning gave him the go-ahead. When the defender went for his pump-fake, Manning laid a perfect ball into White’s hands – in the end zone.

Why did Manning trust an undrafted rookie at a critical point in a big game? The answer begins months ago. Manning went out of his way in the off-season to work with White and others. He used that time to build relationships – not just with his veteran, go-to receivers, but with the new guys as well. White already felt a level of comfort with Manning, enough to make a bold suggestion at a crucial moment.

What are you doing to ensure everyone feels comfortable approaching you?

How are you building relationships with the rookies in your organization?

Leadership Lessons from Watching Football

December 14, 2009 9 comments

TV footballNext time someone gives you a hard time for lying around watching football, tell them you’re studying leadership. It may not get you out of the doghouse, but it sure sounds a lot more responsible. If they press you for specifics, tell them you’re observing the quarterback:

1. “Notice, there’s only one quarterback.” When the ball is hiked, it goes to one person. He’s the guy you listen to, the guy ultimately responsible to do something good with the football. This is unity of command. This should be the same with every issue and aspect of your organization. It should be clear who’s in charge and who people should to listen to.

2. “He gives it away most of the time.” Usually when a quarterback gets the ball, he delivers it to someone else: he either hands it to a running back or throws it to a receiver and let’s them do what they do best. Quarterbacks specialize in delivery. As a leader, practice your delivery – how you delegate and to whom you delegate should be one of your specialties. Note: when the plan calls for it or the situation demands it, be ready to run with the ball yourself.

3. “See the target; feel the pressure.” Quarterbacks can’t get fixated on their receivers (they’ll get sacked from behind) or on the defensive line that’s rolling toward them (they’ll miss the open receiver downfield). As a leader you’ve got to focus on your objective, while at the same time feeling the reality of your situation. It doesn’t work the other way around – you can’t look at the pressure and expect to feel your target.

What has watching or playing sports taught you about leadership?