“A leader must be motivated by what is right, and therefore willing to listen to, and – if fairly convinced – to adopt, other points of view, even if at first they seem in conflict with his own” – from The Art of Leadership by J. Donald Walters
Leaders entrusted with the billion dollar corporations that are NFL teams may be lacking in the fundamental understanding of leadership principles to guide this next generation of players. They possess philosophies and characteristics rolled over from more outdated ways of dealing with people and organizations passed on to them from a bygone era. The game (and its associated business) has changed as they hold firm and steadfast to the ways and means that molded teams twenty to thirty years ago.
Ownerships tend to over-emphasize football background and pedigree in selecting new head coaches and GM’s, while leadership and management experience appear to take a back seat on the list of overall requirements. Professional football, as with any other corporate business venture, is about people. The job (head coach or GM) requires an expanded ability to deal with a number of constituencies on a daily basis.
Premiums are placed on the ability to play a chess game of X & O’s while leaving the overall development of younger players to a veteran leadership that are competing for the very jobs these young players are trying to take. To place the entire burden of mentoring future players on the backs of veterans just doesn’t make good organizational sense. Without a true belief in the foundation of principles that most of us (including a very judgmental media component) aspire to in our athletes, “Me’s” will not only shun these core values but lack the ability to pass them on to future generations of players.
Most failures at the top are a result of an inability to deal with people and the varying dynamics that can play against a team; players, agents, media, fans, owners, coaches. There are only sixteen hours of football each regular season, another eight thousand, seven hundred and forty-nine to mishandle the intricate relationships of these six groups. Can NFL owners truly rely on “on the job training” with their Club’s leadership in this economic climate?
In return the “Me” players must be accepting of the direction the League feels it must take for the greater good and success of the game. They must find a way to incorporate the idea that an optimized individual “both on and off the field” provides a greater platform from which to succeed in a team oriented business. Certainly if fifty-three individuals are playing at peak performance levels and integrating into the organizational culture, then only good things can happen as a result of the success they most undoubtedly will experience.
The League wants an “untarnished shield”, the Clubs want “bang for their bucks” and we already know what the players want. A recent workforce study showed salary and benefits as the #1 and #2 dominant factors or core elements of “Me’s” in the overall workplace. Are we to expect NFL players to be any different?
For the League and the Clubs to try and squash the dynamics that push this “Me” generation of athlete (with an emphasis on the “greater good”) could be a major mistake. By and large their positive traits are congruent with what the NFL and ownerships want from the game, they just need to be channeled in the correct manner.
This generation of player is highly competitive, extremely competent and goal oriented by nature. They are more accepting of diversity and tend to give back to their communities even more than previous generations. They seek and want direction, approval and developmental guidance.
But you (the club) better know what you’re talking about.
Don’t you just sometimes wonder exactly what the selection criteria for “NFL leadership” are?