Who’s Got Your Back?

clasped_handsI had the amazing privilege to see the Seahawks play the Patriots in Gillette Stadium recently and I was pleasantly surprised. I was surprised that football fans are great. They are perfectly fine with a differing point-of-view, passionate about theirs, and happy to have the discussion! If only more in life were like sports fans. Nobody is wrong about their favorite, we just may have to spend a little more time convincing them that our choice is better.

More importantly, I thought about a recent Seahawks/Cardinals game that gave us a very different lesson in leadership. It was a very frustrating “tied” game – two mistakes and two completely different reactions. Coach Carroll of the Seahawks continued to support his player after the game, not offering excuses, but rather saying “we have faith in him and focus on all he did right.” The Cardinals’ coach did exactly the opposite – belittling his player. Which player do you think is more likely to succeed the next time? Which player is more likely to be inspired by his leader? I think the answer to that one is fairly obvious.

As a leader, pointing out the obvious mistakes that someone has made is counterproductive. They know what they have done. Unless for some unknown reason, they are clueless and really truly don’t know, don’t rehash it. Talk about what to do in the future, what to do differently and be there to support their learning and improvement.

This goes back to values, what do you believe? What values have defined your culture? If it’s collaboration, empowerment or trust, you behave like Coach Carroll. You believe in “team,” that mistakes are okay as long as improvement is close behind, and you have your team’s back – always. If you believe in motivation through humiliation, perfection, and bullying, you coach like Arizona. And although sometimes the effect of this type of leadership can be short term improvement, it almost always results in long-term failure. No one will stay with a team like that for long, they will go to where they can learn to be better, allowed to make mistakes in service of learning and can win as a “team.”

What is your leadership style? Do you have your team’s back? Does your executive team have their team’s backs? Winning cultures do. Let’s all look to sports for some good examples of leadership – from the fans as well as the coaches.