Tomorrow is media day at the Super Bowl. You will be able to read about all sorts of things about all sorts of players and coaches. As a football fan you might be interested. But as a student of leadership, you can use the media over the next few days for your own personal leadership development training.
You will be able, if you listen read and sift through things carefully leadership lessons from both coaches. After all, they have lead their teams to the pinnacle of their professions. Are they completely responsible? Of course not. But you aren’t completely responsible for the success of your team either. In both cases you are leaders (not doers-of-every-piece-of-the-work).
The picture on this post is Mike Tomlin, the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is also the youngest head coach to ever reach the Super Bowl.
This article in today’s New York Times is instructive for us. Here is a leadership summary for you.
- He is a studious note-taker of everything related to the game and his work – about practices, approaches to player discipline, goals and much more.
- He is self assured and confident
- He is highly competitive.
All of these say something about his leadership style, and while instructive to us, they may not match your strengths (though I believe all of us can benefit greatly from the use of notes in a learning journal to make us a more effective leader).
The article makes mention of an important leadership skill: flexibility. Here is a quote from the article.
The Steelers were a veteran team one season removed from a Super Bowl title when Tomlin got the job Jan. 22, 2007, at age 34. The players were watching him closely. Tomlin ran an intentionally savage training camp to make the point that he was in charge and to help him determine the hardest workers.
Now the Steelers credit him for delegating authority to his assistants, rather than interfering with play-calling, and for easing up on some players as he has grown more comfortable with them.
“I like the head-scratching,” Tomlin said. “I go out of my way to not put them at ease. There’s nothing wrong with being in a permanent state of arousal and not finding a comfort zone.”
There is much wisdom for you here – not so much in exactly what he did, but why he did it – and how his deliberate actions helped him become a more effective leader of that particular team.
This then is your leadership activity for the day. Take 3 minute and read the NYT article, and 5 minutes reflecting on what you can learn from Mike Tomlin, the 35 year old coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers who are playing for the Super Bowl.