After Super Bowl XLVIII which the Seattle Seahawks won 43-8 over the Denver Broncos, the reporter asked Pete Carroll, Seattle’s head coach, about his belief structure.
Carroll: “I think that what we’re talking about is the truth,” he said. “Helping people be the best they can be … it doesn’t matter what you’re talking about … football, or whether you’re talking about business, or talking about families … the language and the intent … and doing everything you can to help them. I can understand why that does resonate, and I’m very excited about that, because I know that the message goes beyond football.”
To win in football or business, you need talent, but the ability to inspire talent is the more challenging leadership competency. Team sports in general, but in this case professional football, actually provides a framework that is ideal for business.
First, in the NFL at the start of the season for all teams … they have the same vision … to win the Super Bowl. That gives the off-season workouts and training camp a worthy noble cause … something meaningful to strive for. Maybe the business equivalent of a Super Bowl victory is the annual sales convention where success over all competitors is celebrated with the bestowing of rings, perhaps.
The second analogy is that business, like football, is successful to the degree of the team coming firs … reminds me of the no “I” in team expression. It is important during the launch of an effort to sustain a new business program or initiative (think “regular-season”) that leadership grades the performance of all positions … not just sales … to maintain “it takes all of us to succeed”… all the way down the organization to the “water boy”.
The third component of performance is the regular season won-loss record … comparable to business of contracts won versus proposals lost. For a healthy bottom line in business, it is helpful to sell more than your competition.
In the same interview referenced above, Pete Carroll also said this: “just because you make a mistake doesn’t mean that you don’t have all the good in you …for your future. People make mistakes all the time. We learn and grow. If there’s patience and love and you care for people, you can work them through it, and they can find their greatest heights. I love that this message is part of our program, because it really needs to be a part of a lot of programs.”
So how did he elevate the excitement around the three components of business success for his football purposes?
All organizations … business, service, sports … have similar components which I believe are purpose, unity and shared success or progress. So what’s the distinction of high performance ones? How did the Carroll inspire his team around those three components of business success for his football objectives ?
1. Before leaving, he was led. He coached under Bud Grant and learned how to teach.
2. After failure (fired by the Patriots after being fired by the Jets ), he found his own way to connect with players.
3. He believes in love … manifested by his understanding of helping everyone be the best they can be. His words again: “if there’s patience and love and you care for people you can work them through it and they can find their greatest heights.”