One of the most exciting keynote I’ve seen was the one of Steve Young, the former 49ers quarterback, 3 times winner of the Superbowl, MVP, …. Watching how he compares an NFL team to a company organisation is fascinating, and he’s a wonderful story-teller. Here are his main takeaways.
If you’re in charge, assume leadership
Basically, the one and unique goal of a quarterback is to grab the ball and send it to the player who is in the best position to score. And what happens too often is that the quarterback sends the ball in the hands of the « enemy ».
When he does that, his all team that puts such faith in him comes and asks him this very simple question : « Why did you do that? ». Obviously, there are a 1000 reasons for that (the weather, the way the plan has been executed, mud on the ball, …). But finally, there is no excuse to give to the team, the truth is that you missed it, and that’s all.
When this type of situation occurs, don’t try to mitigate, don’t try to explain, just say : « You’re right, I’ve screwed up ». And then say: « Let’s go and fix it! ». When you do that, you become what every leader must be if he wants to claim being a real leader: you become accountable. And accountability is really the key to leadership. In other words, spend no time to explain and full time to fix!
Accountable here doesn’t ring with any « reporting » bell. It deals with people depending on each other. If your colleagues don’t come to the office understanding that the company success also relies on them, there’s no chance you win.
Don’t only focus on the things that go wrong
When Steve Young have arrived in the 49ers team, he expected to be the titular quarterback because Jo Montana was injured. It happened that when he arrived, he quickly understood that Jo was going very well and that he wouldn’t be titular. So as any young and ambitious player, he started to complain about his situation… before understanding that one of the greatest quarterback of all time could eventually become his coach, his mentor, and thus allowing him to become one day one of the greatest too!
But obviously it took time before he got that. That’s what happens to us everyday, when things don’t really go the way we thought they would. So open your eyes and take a chance to see what’s great in your situation. Take a chance to learn something rather than being frustrated. And then you will live a totally different experience for sure.
People fight for someone, not for an « empty goal »
Whatever your plans are, understand that – as a lot of studies prove it – as soon as you work with more than seven people, they will probably have different plans on their mind. And thus friction will occur. So if you’re the leader, it’s up to you to convince people – and not to force them – to fight for you! It’s up to you to get commitment, engagement.
Once again, the number one condition is that you be accountable, otherwise engagement will never happen. But it’s not enough. You’ve got to get something that makes the difference: heart!
It’s heart that will get you in the end zone, that will make you cross the obstacles, make the extra step. Without heart, you’ve only got good will.
The leader must be the one that gives heart to everybody. Find the way to do it, your own way, and then you’ll become a great leader! That will be for sure the subject on another post 😉