This weekend we will be celebrating that national phenomenon and ultimate goal, the Super Bowl. I am a big sports fan but I will admit that I will likely be backing up the TiVo several times when I fall asleep during what is often a yawner.
The most ballyhooed thing about this game has been the hyperventilation of the media over the post game interviews of one of the Seahawks defensive backs after their win over San Francisco. I donâ€™t condone it as I think it sets a terrible example but Iâ€™m not sure what could be expected after such an immense, emotional experience. Part of me wonders how much the media sought it out.
I will not defend him but he is a very young man and that tends to lead to emotional responses. He is also known as being an intelligent and well-liked team-mate, even a leader. And performance counts. After many years of struggle as a mediocre athlete, Iâ€™m not sure how I would have reacted at that age under those circumstances. If you are honest with yourself I doubt you do either.
“Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.”
American civil rights leader
While I think he should have been trained to handle himself better the point of this article is this: Are you actively leading your organization or are you hanging your head and letting events control you?
I have seen both types of leaders. I have been both types of leader. I think I have come to understand some of the psychology behind this and have learned a couple of things:
- I perform at my very best when someone says that I canâ€™t do something;
- It is ok to call the question, but it is not ok to wallow in it.
There are two types of teams and players:
- Those who hang their heads and slouch their way off the court/field when things arenâ€™t going their way. Once you get them down, they are not going to get back up;
- Those who fight to the very end and are highly motivated when they are benched, make a bad play, are in a slump. These are the guys who play even harder on defense when they are not playing well on offense. They are tenacious, scrappy, pesky, and un-afraid to call the question on performance or have it called on them. They also tend to keep their cool under pressure but will let someone know very clearly when they are not performing and will perform at levels they did not think possible when they are seriously challenged.
Calling the Question
We all perform at different levels at different times and under different circumstances. I have, and so have you. Sometimes there are issues with leadership, sometimes there is conflict within teams, and sometimes there are circumstances outside of work that canâ€™t be controlled. And sometimes the other team is just better.
Back to sports for one last time. The New England Patriots were beaten pretty soundly by the Denver Broncoâ€™s in the AFC Championship. Iâ€™m sure they were deflated, disappointed and sad. The next week, Tom Brady had his receivers and coaches on the field back in Boston in the middle of winter working on how they could get better and what they could learn before it got away from them.
The example in my mind is that he let them be sad for a week and then he called the question: What could we have done different and how can we get better? He did not obsess about the loss, he got angry. I am pretty sure the rest of that team wanted to go play golf and spend time at a beach. My guess is that he had to get angry, in their face, and challenge them to get better, starting right now. And I would not want to bet against a team with a leader like that. There is s super bowl trophy coming back to Boston.
I have a friend who has a term for this type of leadership â€“ it is called a BHAG, which stands for a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. I know someone who collapsed and failed to finish a state qualifying race. She was inconsolable. She went on to become an Olympic athlete. Howâ€™s that for a BHAG?
The leaders of the Civil Rights movement had multiple opportunities to fold their tents and go home. People thought they were insane. But they had a BHAG. They were sad, but there was a quiet anger and determination that carried them forward when it looked like all was lost. They changed the world.
Transitioning ownership of your business is the Biggest, Hairiest Audacious Goal there is. You will need leadership, experience and a team.
Iâ€™d love to hear your comments on what BHAGâ€™s you are working towards.