“When people stop coming to you with their problems, this indicates a failure in leadership.” – Gen. Colin Powell
If players are truly the driving force behind the success of any franchise, and clearly they are the end result on Sundays, then ownerships should continue to explore new ways of maximizing their talents to the fullest extent. Many might argue that it’s the very “team concept” of football (more than any other organized sport) that requires rigid emphasis in the face of the core values of the “Me” player.
Certainly this has been a popular focal point over the past few seasons with regards to League imposed discipline, as well as with the Club selections of leadership and management. But a new generation of athlete may be forcing us to quickly relook at our own values with regards to “team building” and open up a whole new way of managing professional sports franchises.
A partnership approach may be the wave of the future. Clubs that show flexibility and understanding towards the leadership and development of their “Me” players will undoubtedly find the road to a championship a little easier to navigate. “Me” players willing to integrate as individuals into all facets of a club’s internal culture will in turn maximize their opportunities both on and off the field.
I disagree with the notion that to build a successful team all its members should be treated in a “cookie cutter” fashion. Individual dynamics are what make a team strong. It’s the inability of leadership to manage, motivate and direct the individual that is toxic to a team environment. The very nature of the “Me” generation probably scares most who are unprepared to deal with this differing viewpoint of life and the workplace.
NFL owners can meet this challenge by understanding their core values/needs and providing the leadership and environment that will cultivate their best efforts as members of their club.
In an earlier post I mentioned five issues that are related to the “Me’s” and it would behoove ownerships to address these if they wish to bridge the GEN Y gap; development, feedback, parental influence, compensation and retention.
FEEDBACK – The “Me’s” are in constant need of it and require a positive approach. Eliminate any ambiguities by clearly defining your requirements with regard to everything. “Dog cussing” a player into toughness won’t get it done. I’ve seen this technique in action and it flat doesn’t work. The coach may think he’s getting the point across but he’s only getting “dog cussed” back and this is no way to build consistent loyalty with your roster.
As a former Air Force Officer, coach and General Manager I’m not saying to coddle players by any means. I will say that if I had been on the field in turn “dog cussing” our coaches for their own inefficiencies they wouldn’t have liked that much either. This is a group that wants “in” on the whole picture. They require a lot of teaching and coaching, not regurgitation of information. Clubs will need to “listen” and be open to the concerns of their players.
I’ve probably spoken with close to 150 or 160 current and former NFL players over the past two to three years. In canvassing their concerns with issues between players and clubs, by far the number one answer was “lack of communication”. Little to no feedback is ever given by the club’s coaches or personnel staff regarding most issues facing players today.
How do you envision the communication between your team and its players? Is it even important to you?