Some of you might get tired of my use of sports stories to illustrate good management, but when I see something like the recent 60 Minutes piece on University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban, I’m struck by the parallels between coaching a sport and managing people. In the end, people are people. Successful strategies to manage, mold, and motivate them are consistent across the playing field and the workplace.
I was in Birmingham, Alabama, over the weekend visiting my daughter at college. While out for breakfast, I saw a local newspaper with the headline “Live Generously: How three Gardendale teenagers hope to change lives with new business.”
If you’re like me, it’s time to turn your attention to 2014. As we move through the fourth quarter of 2013 and can see the end in sight, our thoughts turn to what we want to accomplish in the coming year. At our company, we’re in the midst of our budgeting process for 2014, and to create a budget that matches our ambitions, our goals for the coming year must be defined.
The other night I walked in the door to find my youngest son watching the movie Remember the Titans. If you’re a regular reader of this column, you know I consider the movie one of my favorites. Of course, I sat down and watched the last 30 minutes of the film with my son.
A football coach in Utah recently went to great lengths to make sure his players understand the importance of high-school athletics—that is, he suspended almost the entire team because they were skipping class, had poor grades, and were even participating in bullying a fellow student.
We talk a lot about teams in the workplace today. When we recruit to fill a position, we say, “We’re looking for team players.” When the team achieves success, we say, “We win as a team.” When we consider whether we have the right people on the team, we say, “The team is only as good as its weakest player.” And we hold rah-rah meetings, hand out T-shirts and buttons, and go on retreats all in an effort to build a sense of unity and camaraderie.
Either you love the New York Yankees or you hate them. I’m a hater. I grew up hating them. They were the antithesis of my beloved Chicago Cubs. That is to say they were winners. But I didn’t hate them because they were winners—well, maybe a little. I hated them because of the way they went about it. They were brash and flamboyant with personalities and egos as large as the city they represented.
Penn State University found itself at the center of another controversy when it told faculty and employees they must participate in the school’s new wellness program or have $100 withheld from their paychecks every month.
When Queen Elizabeth I ascended to the throne in 1558, England was, in a word, a mess. The country was struggling financially with runaway inflation and a debased currency. It was a cultural wasteland that was far behind other countries when comparing achievements in literature and the arts. And it was a military weakling without any real army or navy. What’s more, the country was on the brink of a civil war caused by religious dissension. In business terms, England was in dire need of a turnaround—a big job for a 25-year-old.
I recently was reading on the subject of leadership, and one topic that came up was intelligence. So I set out to do some research on the importance of IQ in leadership. I must admit, it’s not easy to find a lot written about the intelligence of leaders. Type “leadership and intelligence” into Google, and you will get page after page of links to articles about the value of emotional intelligence for leaders but little about raw intelligence or IQ. Could there be a reason leadership and IQ are discussed so infrequently? Maybe “intelligent leader” is considered an oxymoron.