5 Leadership Lessons from the Super Bowl
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Aside from being an entertaining football game, Super Bowl XLVII also offered a number of important lessons on leadership to viewers. In particular, the Super Bowl offered lessons on finding talent, making hard decisions and being able to prepare for the future.
In particular, Miles said that the Super Bowl taught leaders the following lessons.
- Use a wide lens for spotting talent — Always look out for those with potential who may not be directly in front of you – these individuals might wind up being the high-performance "franchise quarterbacks" in your business for years to come. The 49ers' head coach Jim Harbaugh's decision to trade up nine spots in the draft pick for Colin Kaepernick and then replace starter Alex Smith with Kaepernick midseason (and keeping him on after Smith recovered) was seen as a gamble by many observers. The performance by the second round 36th pick ended up putting the 49ers in the Super Bowl and giving the Ravens a nail-biter until the end of the game.
- Leverage the unexpected — The Blackout Bowl completely shifted the ground underneath the teams' feet. Great leaders can deal with the unexpected and turn it into a game-changer, which is exactly how the 49ers shifted the momentum. But the Ravens, in turn, were able to respond to the unexpectedly close game and deliver in the end. Business is about constantly regrouping and responding nimbly. Sometimes setbacks provide the impetus you need to leapfrog competitors and win.
- Read the field — Having good antennae and being able to see one or two moves ahead allows you to be able to predict and anticipate versus react. When you are one step ahead, it gives to the advantage of "thinking" versus simply reacting – which can mean a better outcome. The Ravens' defense did this many times throughout the game, intercepting the ball and making tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
- Absorb the stress for your team — High-pressure situations usually reveal character rather than build it. The best leaders absorb the stress and continue to think clearly and make good decisions, while poor leaders tend to amplify stress, becoming emotional and even irrational. Both quarterbacks at different times in the game had massive stressors placed on them, and they both rose to the occasion and continued to lead their respective teams effectively.
- Don't spike the ball on your way out— Whether you are leaving a job for a new one or you had a great success at work, don't rub it in people's faces. Everyone likes a winner when they know how to win. Even when his brother went off the rails a bit to decry the official for a non-call toward the end of the game, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh handled his victory very well from start to finish, even acknowledging that the 49ers handled the delay better.