Think the NFL was happy with this past Sunday’s games? I sure do. The NFL playoffs are in full swing and that usually is great news for the league since they get to dominate the sports headlines for a while. But after a weekend and a half of lackluster matchups and boring blowouts, the NFL must be counting its lucky stars that it finally got two competitive games in the divisional round playoffs this past Sunday, with the back-and-forth matchup between the Packers and Cowboys serving as an instant classic.
After the dust has settled, four teams now remain. And there’s a similar thread running through each of these four remaining teams: outstanding quarterbacks. Matt Ryan may not have had previous playoff success, but he’s had a phenomenal year that will likely garner him the MVP award. Aaron Rodgers has been the hottest quarterback down the stretch and is annually one of the leaders at his position. Big Ben Roethlisberger is also a yearly constant and always a threat to make an impact in any game. Tom Brady is, well, Tom Brady.
These are arguably the best four quarterbacks of all the playoff teams this year so it’s no surprise their teams are still alive. I know, Russell Wilson is a good quarterback, but he’s been incredibly inconsistent (and in some cases just bad, which has a lot to do with his O-line) on the road this year. Dak Prescott had a great game against the Packers, but Rodgers simply made an incredible play to put the Packers in position for that game-winning field goal. Alex Smith is known to play mistake-free football, but he just doesn’t have the ability to carry his offense to victory. Brock Osweiler is, well, I guess there’s no need to pile on top of what’s already been said. Let’s just say good luck to the Houston Texans with that contract and leave it at that.
Not only are all four of these remaining QBs outstanding players and leaders, but they were drafted and groomed by each of their current teams. It’s no surprise that having a great quarterback is essential to a football team’s success (yes, I know the Broncos won the Super Bowl with an over-the-hill Peyton Manning at QB last year, but I’m choosing to ignore that for purposes of this blog).
Sports analogies are constantly used in various situations, and the employment arena is no exception. Just as quarterbacks are vital to a football team’s success, your top-level managers (i.e., your quarterbacks) are incredibly important to one’s business. This includes not just in day-to-day management of the company, but also to ensure that appropriate action is taken to avoid any potential liability that could be incurred by the company.
A good manager knows the playbook inside and out, which includes knowing the pertinent procedures and policies that are in place so that your business is protected from claims of unlawful employment action and in full compliance. A good manager knows the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates and other personnel, and how to deal with them not only on a collective basis but on a one-on-one basis if the need arises. A good manager is excellent at time management and knows when the pocket is caving in on him or her that immediate action is needed, and that not addressing the situation in a timely fashion could result in more problems in the long run. A good manager sets the tone so that the workplace is a positive environment, resulting in less discord among employees or between employees and management, thereby limiting the possibility of lawsuits from disgruntled and unhappy workers. And finally, and most important, a good manager is a great decision maker, who has to trust his or her preparation and judgment to make split second and decisive decisions when the situation calls for it.
But good managers sometimes aren’t always created out of thin air, able to contribute their very first year in the league. Sometimes you have to identify those with talent and promise, those who have the proper motivation and mindset to lead others. Then you have to cultivate that promise, by providing them the means necessary to grow, learn, and possess all the tools needed to allow them to be great managers. Therefore, it is incumbent on employers and those at the top level and/or in HR to identify, train, retain, and cultivate those within the workplace who have the ability and drive to be great managers. It’s not all about the first-round pedigree as a good resume alone is no substitute for determination and the intangibles needed to be a great manager of people. Who knows? With enough attention to detail, commitment, and maybe even a little luck, you might find the next Tom Brady.