Shoveling my driveway this morning (I live in Buffalo NY, that’s what we do!) I was reflecting on the Super Bowl, It occurred to me that there are several significant leadership lessons we might take from Super Bowl XLIX. We saw two strong contestants fighting to the very end, not uncommon in the business world. We also saw two Coaches and their respective staffs strategize to gain a competitive analysis. Almost 100 players played their hearts out for a full 60 minutes. As I reflect on the battle, several points stood out which determined the outcome. If we allow ourselves, we can take powerful leadership lessons from the event:
Adversity: For the past 2 weeks we have heard incessantly about Deflate-gate. Belichick and Brady stood steady, and rose above the distraction, maintained focus and in fact, drew strength from the challenge, which fueled their competitive desire to overcome. When faced with adversity leaders embrace the challenge.
Determination: The plays down the stretch of both halves drew out the best in each player as we saw heroic plays by both sides. Whether it was incredible offensive plays or stellar defensive displays, each player seemed to peak when the chips were on the line. Leaders WANT the ball.
Perseverance: The Patriots overcame the single greatest 4th quarter deficit in history to battle back and win. In response Seattle, playing desperate in the end, drove to the goal line before the misguided call that effectively ended the game. Leaders persevere knowing they will prevail.
Preparation: Each team was uber-prepared for the task at hand, and people such as Malcolm Butler and Chris Mathews stepped up to make a difference. Focus and preparation are the cornerstone of great leadership.
SWOT analysis: Great leaders have great vision. They survey the landscape, assess the Opportunities and Threats, and take action. They are OK with taking educated risks, not foolhardy emotional risks. Pete Carroll out thought himself, and may leave a legacy more as a recklessness dice roller and not as a genius.
Personal Accountability: In the final analysis, Pete Carroll placed the blame… appropriately on his own shoulders for the bone-head call on 2 and 1. Leaders accept responsibility and ownership
Hedgehog: Seattle strayed from their bread and butter, that which the can be best in the world at, and that which through the course of the year drove their engine… Marshawn (Beast-mode) Lynch. Great leaders stick to their knitting and utilize their strengths.
Humility: After a “sleepless night in Seattle”, Pete Caroll awoke to the realization that his Hubris led to the loss. A great leader has Humility and perspective. Then again, Pete Caroll will Persevere…