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Leadership Lessons From The Super Bowl Shocker

Posted by Jarrett on May 4, 2015 10:52:00 AM


Remember when Seahawks’ Coach Pete Carroll called a pass play in the final seconds of Super Bowl XLIX, and the Patriots’ Malcolm Butler intercepted the ball? It will be forever debated whether it was the worst play call in NFL history.

Permit me to do a little armchair quarterbacking. I believe Coach Carroll’s “epic fail” can be used as a teachable moment for entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Here are my three takeaways from the Super Bowl:

Stick to the fundamentals

In football, the fundamentals are blocking, tackling, no turnovers and no penalties. A fundamental play in the Seahawks’ situation would be to run the ball with your best offensive player, Marshawn Lynch. A pass play in this critical situation is creative, but not as fundamentally sound as a running play.

In business, the fundamentals are your core practices that carry you through obstacles and ultimately to success. Sometimes business leaders try to out-think the competition by being creative or clever — attempting something flashy rather than a simple, effective plan. You’ll have a more sustainable business model if you focus on execution of the fundamentals.

Make sure you have great people in the right positions and then allow them to utilize their strengths for successful outcomes

Trust your great people — your company’s Lynches — and know that they will succeed because you’ve placed quality people in the right positions for the job. This has been a very successful process at Jarrett Logistics Systems for years.

Know when to take a risk

Risk-taking in business is required, but you need to evaluate the advantages, disadvantages and timing. In the Super Bowl, the Seahawks had only seconds left at the end of the game — not enough time to recover if things go wrong. Coach Carroll thought the risk was much lower. He didn’t anticipate the defensive back jumping in front of the receiver and intercepting the pass.

Coach Carroll might have been celebrating a win if he had followed these guidelines. He would have done well to keep in mind the famous quarterback sneak play that Coach Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr executed in the 1967 “Ice Bowl” between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers on the frozen tundra at Lambeau Field.

Everyone thought the Packers would pass the ball because there were only 16 seconds and no timeouts left in the game. But Coach Lombardi surprised the Cowboys with one of the most basic, fundamentally sound, low-risk plays you could execute. It was a great play call: Brown Right 31 Wedge, where future Hall of Famer Starr keeps the ball and sneaks in behind future Hall of Famer right guard Jerry Kramer, who provided the key block on defensive tackle Jethro Pugh.

A successful football coach organizes teams of great people, puts them in a position to win, emphasizes fundamentals and then lets them execute. It’s a game plan that every business leader should emulate.

Michael Jarrett is founder and president of Jarrett Logistics Systems and PackShip USA.

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