February 6, 2012 at 3:04 pm #152093
The Leadership Game is a new, recurrent feature about leadership lessons from the world of sports.
No time for a full fledged post, but I would be remiss if I didn’t zoom in on one aspect of an outstanding Super Bowl. The game’s final two minutes were a leadership tour de force. 3 observations:
- Play to your strengths: Going into the game it was clear this was a matchup of 2 somewhat flawed teams. Neither team could run the ball, and only the Giants could boast a strong defense. Both teams boasted dynamic offenses, executed by 2 of the greatest Quarterbacks in NFL history throwing to outstanding receivers and tight ends. So it was no surprise that with the game on the line both coaches made the call to put the ball in the hands of their superstar quarterbacks. The faith of these 2 coaches in their QBs loomed large in the final 2 minutes; touching of a wild sequence of events in which both quarterbacks had opportunities to win the game.
Great players make everyone better: On the defining play of the game, Mario Manningham hauled in a perfectly thrown ball to his outside shoulder. The catch immediately recalled David Tyree’s insane helmet catch from 2007, and proved to be the difference in the game. The play brought instant redemption to Manningham, whose previous signature for the game was running a boneheaded fade route that nullified a potential touchdown earlier in the game. As the all but forgotten 3rd receiver, Manningham probably wouldn’t have even been on the field if not for game ending injuries to the 1st and 2nd Tight Ends on the depth chart. Credit to Manningham for a remarkable catch, but credit Eli for a perfectly thrown ball. For as much as is made about Tim Tebow’s late game heroics in Denver, once the 4th quarter starts It’s Eli Manning who looks like the second coming of John Elway.
- Trust the process: Once Manning/ham hooked up for that mind boggling catch, Belichek was faced with another tough call: did he want to try and play for a field goal with <20 seconds, or try for a touchdown with a minute? Belichek weighed his options and made one of those moves that analysts always propose but that few have the moxy to execute: he let the Giants score to put the ball in the hands of his star quarterback. As gutsy as that call was, it was perhaps even more remarkable that Coughlin was prepared for it! Ahmad Bradshaw desperately tried to down it at the 1 foot line but was carried into the end zone by his own momentum.
Both coaches made incredible calls, the kind of calls people love the fantasize about but never envision making, in the waning moments of the most important game of the season. In the end, both team maximized their chances for victory, but the Giants executed a little better. Both coaches evaluated and re-evaluated their options in real time and made difficult, unconventional decisions; at no time did it seem the game had gotten away from them. The Giants were treated to another Super Bowl, and we were treated to a riveting clinic on leadership at the highest level.
What were your leadership observations about the Super Bowl?
Dave Uejio is the President of Young Government Leaders, the professional association for aspiring government leaders. Join today at http://www.younggov.org.
February 7, 2012 at 7:07 pm #152095
Based on what I’ve observed in football and elsewhere, leadership is a product of preparation and instincts. The Manning QBs obsess over preparation, especially Peyton, who might be the best ever at dissecting opponents pre-game, then adjusting his offense in the heat of battle. Eli has inherited enough of that to be elite. Both Coughlin and Belichick preach preparation for their fairly sophisticated game plans.
But preparation will only go as far as your instincts will take you. Early in his career, Eli either didn’t have the instincts to recognize what he prepared for or didn’t have the confidence to trust that he was making the right calls. Those days are over, and he’s super-confident — undoubtedly elite — and the possessor of two Super Bowl rings.
I could make a strong argument that preparation is the result of hard work — a personal commitment to strive toward excellence — while instincts are the product of experience and self-awareness — a personal commitment to persevere through adversity and learn from mistakes and successes.
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