Jeffrey Saltzman's Blog

Enhancing Organizational Performance

Leadership: Lessons from the Superbowl

with one comment

Leading is easy when you win, but we’re tested when things are tough.
By Guest Blogger: Victoria Hendrickson, Ph.D.

Three weeks ago, Cam Newton led his team to victory. He was dynamic both on and off the field, fist bumping and cheering on his teammates. Afterwards, he spoke positively about his team, shared credit, and was excited for what he expected to accomplish in the Super Bowl.

But last night, when things weren’t going well, he was quiet. He stood alone, looking at the ground, staring off into space, and not interacting with his teammates. After their loss, he avoided questions, didn’t say what he would have done differently, and he couldn’t find anything positive to say. While he was quick to share credit in good times, he couldn’t keep the team’s morale up and lead when times were tough.
So what can we learn from this?
• Think about your team. How many young, ambitious technical superstars have been promoted into leadership roles?
• Occasional failure is inevitable. What separates the top companies is an ability to learn from failure, re-focus their approach, and continue on with the same passion and energy. This requires a leader who can identify the failure, name it, and keep their team together in re-focusing with a new approach.
• The ambitious, technical experts with little experience are accustomed to success – they have a lot of it. But they aren’t used to failure, and they don’t know how to lead a team through it.

If Cam Newton had led differently yesterday, would it have made a difference? Clearly, there’s no way to tell. But in business, we often have the opportunity to change our leadership style to achieve better performance. We want to hear your stories: What’s one game-changing leadership move you’ve ever made?

Written by Jeffrey M. Saltzman

February 8, 2016 at 12:28 pm

One Response

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  1. Cam Newton in the context of a business organization would be labeled a high potential. They achieve this status as a result of accomplishments beyond the norm and their experiences with failure are minimal or non-existent. But as Victoria wrote failure is inevitable and unless it is handled well it can lead to business and personal problems. In order to prevent this, high potentials should have the benefit of coaching as a means of promoting their careers. A good coach would prepare high potentials for all the exigencies that occur within one’s career and teach them productive ways of handling failure as well as success.

    Walter Reichman

    February 8, 2016 at 10:30 pm


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