Being a Leader of the Pack

It’s difficult to live in Wisconsin and avoid seeing green and gold anywhere.  After all, they are the official team colors of the Green Bay Packer’s football team.  You see Packer jerseys, Packer jackets, Packer banners, and even Packer decals throughout the state.  Though I imagine it probably helps that the team is currently undefeated this season.  Since their founding in 1919 by Earl “Curly” Lambeau , the team has won a total of 13 NFL championships and has won four Super Bowls.  The team also has the distinction of being the only major league professional sports team in the U.S. to be community-owned and non-profit.

After each game, radio stations here will typically air shows discussing that game’s events.  That’s when the residence of our happy state have a chance to voice their opinions about why the team won or lost during that particular game.  To me, football teams win for the same reasons organizations succeed or fail.  It comes down to some very fundamental concepts, which I would of course like to share with you.

The first of these concepts is “Talent”.  Every good organization needs to surround themselves with talented people—people that can get the job done with the resources that they have available to them.  The Packers for example have had players like Mike Michalske, Don Hutson, Bart Starr, Jim Tayler, Brett Favre, Reggie White , and now Aaron Rodgers.  But just having talent is not enough.  Organizations need to focus on providing depth of talent in your worker pool.  Like in football, unexplained things can happen.  Someone might leave the organization for another, they might get injured, or they may simply retire.  Having depth in your talent pool ensures that you can still manage to make the plays when you need, even when your “star players” are not able to be on the field.

This brings us to our next point.  You cannot simply rely on a few players to pull out a win every time.  It requires “Teamwork” and a willingness to share the burdens of failure, and those of victory as well.  What fascinates me about the Packers this year is how the team has really pulled together as a winning unit.  In the post-game interviews, you often hear a player talking about the entire team’s performance or complimenting other players for their contributions during the game.  So instead of egos, it about winning.  In the last game for example, the quarterback Aaron Rodgers could have easily attempted to pad his rating by staying in the game.  But instead, he graciously allowed his backup to lead the team for the last part of the game.  And then there’s receiver Donald Driver, who could easily complain that he needs more throws to him so he can increase his reception count before he eventually retires.  But instead, Mr. Driver puts out a consistent performance every game and lets players like Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson share in the spotlight.   Does your organization have people willing to help others in the organization succeed?  Or do you have people who want recognition for their performance even though others were involved?  Is your worker pool flexible enough and generous enough to get the job done as a team?

And it really helps to be able to “change up the plays” from time to time.  If your team is known for doing a certain thing, a certain way, every time, it is easy to predict what they will do next.  Opponents can predict what your organization will do and then counter that strategy with one of their own.  If you keep your organization nimble and flexible, your opponents are kept off-guard and you will have an advantage over them.  But this means you must have a team that is able to cope with the changes that you make on your path to victory.

It might help to establish some type of “Strong Leadership” in your winning organization.  When you have talented people and good teamwork, sometimes the team starts doing things that you might not expect.  In football, this amounts to changing the play at the line.  This may work in certain situations, and it might actually be necessary, like in a blitz-type situation where the team is suddenly and unexpectedly overwhelmed.  In these situations, you want your team to be able to make a quick adjustment to get out of trouble.  But ultimately, you need a game plan and someone like a head coach to make the overall decisions.  You need someone that will look beyond the currently play—someone that is looking at the entire game or season.   Basically, you need a leader.

One of the things that a good leader does in football is manage the time effectively.  “Time Management” is a key component to winning football games.  This is why you see teams run the ball when they are several scores ahead of the other team.  This is also why you see hurry-up offenses when the team is behind.  It’s all about managing the time you have effectively, and this is no different in organizations outside of sports.  Setting deadlines, meeting milestones, and establishing schedules are all important to having a winning organization.  Unlike football though, if you mismanage your time, you don’t just lose the game, you could lose valuable resources and money.

So, there you have it.  Those were my top reasons why I think the Packers are doing well this season.  And they are like any organization.  Where our organization may have a goal to sell more widgets in the coming year, the Packers are looking to make it to the next Superbowl and win it.  I have no doubt that they can achieve that goal, if they continue to keep have a team with Talent, Teamwork and Strong Leadership, as well as the ability to Change-Up the Plays and can maintain affective Time Management.



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