In addition to being a very exciting football game, this year’s Super Bowl was full of wonderful story lines with outstanding leadership lessons. Here are a few of the leadership lessons I took away from the Super Bowl:
Let’s start with Malcolm Butler of the Patriots and Chris Matthews of the Seahawks. Both were undrafted coming out of college. Butler attended the University of West Alabama, a Division II school, not exactly known for producing professional football players. After a short career in the Canadian Football League, Matthews was working at a Foot Locker store when the Seahawks asked him to try out for the team. He had a grand total of zero catches prior to this Super Bowl game. As we know now, Matthews had over 100 yards receiving and Butler made the defensive play that secured the win for the Patriots. So these two guys taught us about persistence and resilience. They taught us to never give up. They taught us to be ready when your opportunity does come. They taught us to work hard so when you are on the biggest stage of your career, you seize the moment!
We also learned lessons from Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll about poise and composure in the face of a difficult defeat. Wilson was calm and poised in his interview after the game. He showed professionalism and class. Carroll accepted responsibility for the loss. He told the media and his players that the loss was on him. He showed great accountability and leadership in deflecting blame for the loss from any one player and taking it himself.
Marshawn Lynch, who has an interesting way of dealing with the media as he displayed in the days leading up to the game, was a great team player after the loss. Even though the entire world thought the Seahawks should have handed him the ball on what would become their last offensive play of the season, they decided to pass. When asked if he was surprised he did not get the ball on that last play, Lynch said, “No, because football is a team sport.” Lynch took the high road. Rather than throwing any teammates or coaches “under the bus,” he showed support for his team. This is the ultimate in selfless teamwork.
Lastly (and being from Pittsburgh this one is the most difficult to write!), how about Tom Brady. He has led the Patriots to six Super Bowls, winning four of them. He is unflappable under pressure and clutch in the big games. Brady holds the record for highest career playoff winning percentage. He finds a way to get it done.
I love sports because they are the ultimate teacher. We can learn so many lessons from sports and this year’s Super Bowl was full of them. Hopefully, we can use these lessons to make us better leaders.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. – Check out my website at http://www.jvearle.com and keep me in mind if you hear of any opportunities to share my thoughts on leadership.