The Super Bowl was two weeks ago, but the discussion of the infamous play call hasn’t stopped.
- “How can you NOT give the ball to Marshawn Lynch for a 1 yard run?!”
- “Who is so stupid as to try and throw the ball?!”
- “Why have you let our city down?!”
Read a newspaper, listen to a talk show or check out SportCenter – it is everywhere! Pete Carroll himself called it “the worst result of a [play] call ever.”! No one agrees with what transpired during that fateful last minute of the game.
On all accounts it was a complete failure!
The lesson for you, however, has nothing to do with football. You don’t need to understand x’s and o’s for this take away.
The lesson lies in the power of humility.
We often consider great leaders as the ‘smartest’, the ‘bravest’, the ‘flawless’ or the ‘most strategic’, but that isn’t usually the case. While these are elements of great leaders – the lesson here is humility.
While not sexy – Humility is a tremendous leadership trait.
Pete Carroll (the head coach) did NOT call the play. It is well documented his offensive coordinator calls the plays.
What is interesting – Pete took the blame. He held him self accountable to the outside world because he is the Boss. The buck stopped with him.
It would be very easy to point to his offensive coordinator and take one giant step toward the back of the room. “Accountability” some might say. “Ownership” others would utter. You live and die by your own sword.
Instead, he takes the blame, heat, ridicule and abuse for a decision he did not make. He protects his people even at the expense of his own credibility. He takes the public blame squarely on the chin.
Is he holding the coordinator accountable behind the scenes? Have there been consequences for the decision? We don’t know. That’s the beauty. He is managing the performance away from the prying eyes of others.
It is a great reminder (and example) of a classic leadership stable:
Give credit for the good; Take blame for the bad.
If you have the humility for this, your people notice. You gain credibility in their eyes. They appreciate if you take the bullets (and coach/discipline them away from the spot light.)
Leadership is not easy.
Leadership can be lonely.
Leadership requires black eyes you don’t deserve.
However, if you want to build a team of loyal, committed followers – be humble enough to take the fall. It pays dividends for years.