Leadership Reactions

My good friend Julie Truesdell aka@TruesdellClass sent me the following Facebook message after last Sunday night’s NFL game:


I have the very best Rippler friends in the world to send me stuff like this when they see it. Julie, I appreciate it more than you know so THANK YOU.

But the point of the article is what I want to talk about today. Because it comes down to a very insightful look into leadership style when things don’t fall our way.

First full disclaimer, I am not a Pete Carroll fan. Never have been. I think it goes back to the USC days when my beloved Texas Longhorns kicked the Trojan’s ass to win the National Championship. Carroll just struck me at the time as arrogant. I’ve since seen him develop the Seahawks into a proverbial powerhouse NFL franchise so perhaps I’ve softened on my impression of him as a coach. Though as a Cowboys fan and seeing they kept us from advancing a few years ago in the playoffs, I still by right have to dislike the guy. Not really. Well, maybe.

But as a leader, I have grown to admire and respect him. Though I will not readily admit this outloud around my Cowboy faithful.

The article that Julie shared further showed why I’ve grown to admire him. He understands people. Most importantly how to have his people’s (players) back even when things don’t fall the way he wants them too.

I won’t rewrite the entire article – read it here: http://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/a-lesson-in-leadership-2-football-coaches-2-player-mistakes-and-2-very-different.html

Instead what I’d like to focus on is the response he had to what occurred during the game. As you will read, the game ended up in a tie with both team’s kickers having to chance to win the game in OT for their respective teams. They both missed what was a seemingly routine field goal. However as we know, when the pressure is on, there is no such thing as routine.

In the post-game press conference both coaches had starkly different reactions when asked about their respective kickers’ miss. Bruce Arians threw his kicker under the bus saying “You get paid to make it!” Ouch. Pete Carroll on the other hand defended his kicker stating “He’s been making kicks around here for years….He’s our guy.” Can you say loyalty?

Wow how different are those reactions? Real insight into the starkly different attitudes from both head coaches.

In business, and let’s face it, the NFL is a business, mistakes will happen. Things won’t always go the way we want. As leaders this can be frustrating. We’ve worked our ass off to get that deal (or the ball) all the way to the finish ( or goal) line and someone or something screws it up at the last second. That customer service opportunity we had we blew. We didn’t deliver on something that counted and lost the customer.

How we handle ourselves as leaders in this time of frustration and loss is palatable by all that work for us.

Do we, as leaders assign blame, show anger and basically stomp our feet in fits of “it’s not fair!” or do we handle ourselves with class? Our people take notice and how they respond beyond the issue at hand you can bet will be forever altered by how we react when things don’t go our way and we don’t deliver the result we had expected. Your reaction can and will change people and how they work point forward.

I like Bruce Arians. He’s a no nonsense kind of coach. I suspect players love playing for that kind of guy. You pretty much always know where you stand. But in this instance, his attitude and comments undoubtedly undermined his players confidence in him as a leader. Shit happens and things don’t work out as they should. It sucks. We all hate it. But as a leader your people depend on you to handle it with a tad bit more grace and discernment. And in the end have our back.

Pete Carroll understands this. Bruce Arians maybe not so much.

As leaders we all can take a lesson from Carroll’s management style and leadership playbook. Better yet we can apply to our own situational leadership and learn from this very powerful lesson.

Doesn’t mean the Cowboys won’t still kick his ass this year in the playoffs. Because they will. But if and when it happens I suspect he won’t be throwing any players under the bus when he stands before a bank of reporters.

Julie thank you for sending this article my way. You can bet that I will be using this to further my training on leadership and professional development.  So thank you again for sending it. 

Ripple On!!!

P.S. Want to create a Ripple today? Check out Julie’s Twitter page and see what programs she’s trying to get funded for her classroom. Consider a small donation and let her know you are Rippling on her behalf.

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