Your Office is a Super Bowl

Organizational leadership Teamwork


Put on your uniform and play tomorrow!

What’s your Super Bowl pick? Steelers or Packers? Like great sports teams, organizations must be great as a system! What position do you play on your team?  What impact do you have? Should you get a new contract? Get traded? Get cut loose?

As a former executive for a professional sports team, I’ve recognized that running a great sports franchise and any organization is very similar.  The real difference in the world of sports is that in sports/entertainment, the “product” is very visible to the public in tangible and emotional ways. The end result for the team is very clear because there is only one winner at the end of the season.  For most businesses, profit and market share is one measure of winning, but of course the emotional attachment to fans is usually not a factor (although customer attachment is hugely important).

But anyone in sports is likely to tell you that developing a winning team involves more than great talent on the field or in the arena. In the same way organizations cannot win with just a super sales team alone.  In sports the people looking after equipment, the medical/training team, the communications folks, the operations people, and ticket sales; every position in every department must be great. And in organizations, the performance of every person and department makes a big difference to the ultimate commercial and market success.  The sales team can’t sell without superb products and excellent delivery from the service department.

That’s why it is so hard for sports teams to win and repeat championships, and for organizations to stay on top. Being consistently great is much more than getting the best talent. Yet teams like the Steelers, Patriots, Packers, Yankees, Lakers, Canadiens, Manchester United, etc. (you pick ’em) win consistently year in and year out because anyone who plays any role understands the purpose and wears the “brand” with passion. A winning sports club or company represents a system that drives consistent success by numerous metrics; championships the most obvious.

  • Action: While you and I will likely never play on a professional sports team, we do play a key role on a team if we work in any organization. My belief is that if we thought of ourselves as “suiting up” to play every day, we and our organizations would perform at a higher level.  I also think we would have more fun.

As an example, The Pittsburgh Steelers football franchise, whether you like them or not, represent a tough, grind it out, hard nosed game. They are not about finesse. They run right at you and grind out every yard. My guess is that they act like that in every aspect of the franchise. What kind of team do you play for? What does your brand represent? What kind of player are you? How do your team mates play? Could you “play” in the Steelers’ system?

Play and win in the Triangle,


You’re the Boss with Your Boss

Accountability Books Management Teamwork


Remember that you are as responsible for the relationship with your boss as he/she is with you.

Being the Boss: The Three Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader, co-authored by Harvard professor Linda A. Hill and executive Kent Lineback, was picked by a number of critics as a 2010 superb book to read if one wants to advance their career.  The book covers three core areas:  manage yourself, manage your network, and manage your team.  There are many outstanding insights in the book and in this blog; I want to highlight one of the perspectives. Many people I have worked with complain about the shortcomings of their bosses and put most of the burden for the status of relationship on them. Professor Hill brings a view that is valuable to reflect on:

“It’s common to let the person up the chain be most responsible for whether you have a healthy relationship, but you’re equally responsible. If you don’t manage that relationship right, your team is not going to be able to do what it needs to do.

Powerlessness corrupts as much as power. You shouldn’t feel powerless with your boss. That’s not the deal. You have to figure out the sources of power you have to influence the boss. You also have to see the boss as human and fallible in all the ways that you’re human and fallible, and figure out how to deal with the reality of who that person is—rather than the ideal of what you’d like that person to be like. There are really bad bosses, and you can’t be naive or cynical about this. It’s hard to be successful with a bad boss, and sometimes success means figuring out how to get out of that situation. But before you decide that’s the deal, you need to take responsibility for the relationship, because it’s definitely two-way.

Today many people have multiple bosses, and we also discuss the challenges there. One of the most common missteps is to deal with the boss who’s closest to you physically and treat your relationship with your other boss as out of sight, out of mind. So we talk about how you have to manage the priorities between those two bosses and how to negotiate what will be your priorities, given their priorities.”

  • Action: Take honest stock of what we’re doing to improve the relationship with our boss or bosses.

Be a Boss in the Triangle,