In the category of “Man, I wish I’d written that,” my blogging friend Mike Figliuolo had a great post last month called “Ten Reasons Your Team Hates You.” It was a brilliant piece with many “so-true-they-might-hurt items,” such as you don’t fight for them, you micromanage, you’re a suck-up and you’re above getting your hands dirty.
So it was with Mike’s post in the back of my mind that I watched Brett Favre lead the Vikings to a 30-23 win over his former team, the Packers. If you follow football, you understand why I’m making the connection between Mike’s “Ten Reasons Your Team Hates You” post and Favre. Even nonsports buffs are probably aware and completely sick of Favre’s multiyear act of will he retire or not? Who will he play for? When will he play? … and so on. He’s done about as much as he possibly can to make his colleagues skeptical of his motives and intent. And yet the Vikings seem to be gelling around him.
Favre is successfully doing what you’ll likely have to do at least once in your career—stepping in to lead a team that for whatever reason has doubts about whether you’re the right leader. In spite of all the drama, Favre is winning the Vikings over. How is he doing it? Here are a few things he’s doing that I think apply to leaders in all fields:
Win: Winning games—whatever that looks like in your context—can solve a lot of problems. Favre brings the skills and the experience of a winner to the Vikings. He’s getting it done. It’s a lot easier for a leader to win the team over when he or she brings the talent and experience needed to help it win.
Spread it around: Prior to the Packers’ win, Favre had changed his game plan from firing off passes to involving a lot of other players. When a leader sets things up so everyone gets to contribute at the full extent of his talent, there’s a much better chance of full engagement.
Throw some blocks: On a regular basis, you can see Favre throwing a block downfield to help clear a path for one of his runners. This is his way of counteracting Mike Figliuolo’s point about not getting your hands dirty. By throwing a block, Favre is stepping out of his role to help make his team successful. Leaders in every field need to look for and act on their own opportunities to “throw a block” for their team.
Keep it light: Say what you will about Favre, when he’s on the field he looks like he’s a lot of fun to play with. He jokes, he jumps around, he gives noogies. I’m not suggesting that you give noogies to your teammates, but there are ways to keep it light. Look for them.
Passion: If you’re still playing in the NFL at almost 40 years old, it’s safe to say that you have a fair amount of passion for the game. Favre clearly does. The presence of the leader influences the presence of the team. Favre’s passion is infecting the Vikings in a positive way. Showing your commitment and passion through your words and action is a great way to win over your team. Watch out though. If passion is all you bring to the table, you’re likely to lose them. Remember the first Favre lesson. It helps to win.
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