Leadership Lessons Learned from Alabama Football

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How executive leadership resembles team sports

         “If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride – and never quit – you’ll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the  rewards.”

          – Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant

Coach Bryant was very clear on what our recipe for success as a team was: each member of the team needed to be dedicated, determined, enthusiastic and willing to put forth great effort. Each one of the eleven men on the field has a unique job to do. If one is ill-prepared, the team will suffer, and victory is less likely. Commitment to the success of the team requires individuals who are willing to be excellent at all costs, who can view failures as learning lessons and their personal victories in terms of the team’s overall success. Cultivating these attitudes amongst team members is just as necessary as doing the grueling physical exercises on the practice field.

The same is true of any role undertaken in a professional capacity. Each member of the team must understand their successes will largely be determined by their willingness to apply these principles into their motivations. Finding professionals who are dedicated to the company’s purpose, determined to excel in their work both as an individual and as a team, who are willing to work hard and be enthusiastic in their approach is critical to leading any company to new and greater heights.

    “The ‘Eye in the Sky’ don’t lie.”

   – Coach Ken Donahue

From the moment you step foot on the field, everything you are doing is being recorded for the benefit of the team. If you make a mistake, it will be noticed, and you will be held accountable. While some may look at this as daunting, the most successful players see an opportunity for growth. The camera is brutally honest in its feedback, but the lessons gleaned from evaluating your performance are invaluable.

Accountability in business is required for professional growth amongst every member of the team. The ability to have honest and impartial feedback to gauge strengths and developmental opportunities creates an environment for growth within every level of your organization. With this knowledge in hand, each member of the team is empowered to support one another, playing to each other’s strengths and providing support when appropriate.

“People who are role models for the principles and values of the organization, who buy in and understand the vision of what the organization is trying to accomplish and have the personality to inspire other people to the vision. You know, that’s what team chemistry and leadership is all about.” 

– Coach Nick Saban

Leadership modeling at every level of the organization cannot be overstated. From selecting the talent who will have the greatest chance of success as a team, reviewing the game film and making plans for future success, the critical piece is always in the management of the team. A great coach will transform and motivate teams to accomplish goals they never thought possible while at the same time developing the individual players, seeing the patterns and trends coming off the field of play and adjusting the game plan when necessary.

The same is true of business. When it comes to selecting your leadership, it is imperative organizations hire the leader who understands and lives out the values that drive success, who uses accountability to grow members of their team and who can create and implement the processes that create victories within the companies.

In my role of helping organizations make their most important decisions, selecting their executive leadership, I use these life lessons in evaluating talent routinely. Does a candidate for a leadership role demonstrate dedication, determination, enthusiasm and effort? Are they comfortable leading in a performance-oriented culture, giving and receiving feedback in a positive manner to achieve the organization’s goal? Are they skilled in building effective teams? Can they communicate a clear and concise game plan?

Today’s business leaders are faced with ever-increasing challenges due to changes in their respective fields of play. The answer is the same in business as it was on the football field: it starts with the right people.  In serving our clients, we look at the organization’s values and mission and then find the best hire with the right qualifications to get this game plan in action.  We help organizations succeed because we understand what drives success within an organization and always work unceasingly to provide each of our clients with the right fit for their organization’s game plan. Our expertise is geared around finding the people that make good organizations great, who lead teams to victory and inspire organization-wide success.

It’s been quite some time since I strapped on my helmet and put my hand in the dirt, but the principles I learned on the football field drive my passion for connecting organizations with the leaders that will help them win. Let us help you get the winners into the game.

About the Author:
Daniel Casteel is the Managing Director of Stanton Chase Nashville and the Regional Vice President of North America.

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