The craze sweeping the united states this winter season comes from the National Football League. Of course I’m referring to Tebowing, originated by Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, and you either love him or hate him. Removing religiousity (my word) from the equation, Tim Tebow along with the Broncos have strung together a series of outstanding comebacks before recently succumbing to the superior Brady Bunch and the Patriots. Denver was left for dead on multiple occasions through three quarters plus in games, only to rise up like Lazarus to conquer the football Reaper and stand in victory.
Is there a leadership lesson in this over-hyped story for small company owners, entrepreneurs and corporate execs ?
Tebow’s type of play has been pooh-poohed as unsustainable, tagged as downright ugly, and lampooned on Saturday Night Live. It’s also been lauded by evangelicals, adopted by presidential candidates, and embraced by middle-America. Yet the most remarkable thing this sensation demonstrates is clutch performance, doing your best when it’s all that matters, and it has been on display in sports throughout the decades in names like Reggie, Jordan, Montana and Gretski. Tebow is the most recent, albeit more unconventional representation of clutch production in crunch time. But is it sudden, sacred intervention, or a predictable method?
Game Plan Your Strengths
If you’ve caught any of these Bronco games, you know that a few weeks ago, John Fox and the coaching staff kept if very basic, dumbing down the playbook, or so it seemed, so Tebow could get by. In a pass-happy, copycat league that is the NFL, Denver went almost wholly to a game plan of running the ball and shutting down on defense. With a few exceptions, it worked. The coaching staff made the unconventional routine, cut short the games, and stayed within striking distance.
Tebow isn’t Manning or Drew Breese, and their offense wasn’t constructed that way with the players around the quarterback. Tebow is a rough, solid, contact-loving player who thus far relies more on a big heart and hard work than traditional passing talents.
There is more than one way to succeed!
As a leader in business, you may not have elite level talent or the mix of people on your team bus that you may have wanted. So what? Take stock not only of what human assets you have and what they’re good at, but of the strengths you may have in plant and machinery, intellectual property and patents, pricing, operating systems and capital. This is basic SWOT analysis with a capital S folks. Be aware of your weak spots and seek to mitigate them right now by playing to your strengths. Nothing wipes out a business faster than striving to be what it isn’t.
Keep It Close Until the Very End
The Denver game plan is playing to the strength of a running game that grinds on the other team, shrinks the game by exhausting the clock, and keeps the Broncos within winning distance at the end. It’s this clutch time when Tebow magic happens, but that magic is almost expected. The other team is tired, frustrated that this bible-thumping character is even close after being statistically dominated for three quarters, and just a bit worried of being another statistic on the Tebow legend wall. Persistence wears down resistance like water in a stream smoothes over the stones.
In business if you have a target, focus on it like a laser beam, and keep striving again and again, prosperity is inevitable provided you believe it. Top performing sales folks know this when trying to crack the biggest accounts. Manufacturers demonstrate this every day by producing things smaller, lighter, quicker and cheaper that do things we didn’t think possible five years earlier. Set a business goal, establish a plan that minimizes risk and moves you steadily toward it, and seize the opportunity when it ultimately comes.
Raise Other People’s Performance
Now this is the leadership goal we all have, to raise the game of everyone in the company. Easier said than done.
I’ve heard dozens of analysts in recent weeks apologize for the Tebow success.
“He’s not the one kicking 59 yard field goals.”
“He’s not playing great defense.”
“He’s not making great catches on poorly thrown balls.”
Wow! That Tim Tebow– he’s a really lucky guy. Let me ask you this, do you think the fact that all of those other guys are stepping up is a lucky coincidence? Before the coaches put Tebow in as a starter, the defense was giving up a lot of points, the kicker was missing field goals, and receivers had their share of lapses and then some. So what happened?
Leadership by example happened. Nothing fires up the defensive side of the ball more than seeing their second-year passer trying to run over linebackers, and actually doing it. Tebow’s not a diva. He gets grimy and bloody, playing more like an offensive lineman than a quarterback. The last thing anyone else on that team wants is to be shown up by this kid in the hard work department, and suddenly, the whole team is leagues ahead of where it was to start the year.
How do you lead by example in your company? The ways you can are too numerous to list. Do whatevers it is you ask employees to do, or be ready to when a key employee calls in off work. Pay suppliers on a timely basis and watch the company virtues improve. Reward first-rate performance without being asked and everyone starts improving on the job. You are the leader of the company, and everything you do is being watched and emulated. Be aware of it and you ‘ll raise the game of your team like Tebow does.
Losers Have Hope – Winners Have Conviction
The Tebowing process of falling to one knee in prayer or thanks, the unpretentious pep talks in the huddle, and the poise under stress are the body language not of blind optimism, but of belief. When belief is followed by action, it becomes conviction, and that is contagious and hard to stop.
One of the biggest business clichÃ©s going is that Hope is Not a Strategy. Well here is the procedure of conviction, the outright certainty that things will work out as good as they can, and when they don’t, something even greater will come out of the momentary setback.
How would you run your organization if you really believe you couldn’t fail? What product lines would you expand? What people would you hire? The reality is that worry over possible outcomes put more stress on us than when the worst actually takes place. I’m not proposing being risky or silly with your money or time. What I am saying is that if you have outright conviction in your actions, you ‘ll begin to do the other three things we’ve discussed: you ‘ll focus on your strengths, keep regularly progressing toward your target, and improve the effectiveness of your employees and business partners.
Each of these 4 components tends to feed the other, and suddenly you ‘ll find out that your success is more formulaic than divinely inspired, although a little bit of divine help never hurts.
About the Author: Karl Walinskas is the CEO of Smart Company Growth, a business development firm that helps small to mid-size professional service firms build competitive advantage in an online world of sameness. His Smart Blog covers leadership, business communication, sales & service, public speaking and virtual business, and was recently named by Buyerzone as one of the Top 20 Business Blogs of 2011. He is the author of Getting Connected Through Exceptional Leadership, available in the SmartShop and Amazon.com, and has been a featured expert for Inc.com with articles published in Selling Power, America Online, and Site Pro News to name a few. Get your FREE LinkedIn Profile Optimization eBook & video course, Video Marketing video and course, or Mastermind Groups e-course & video now.
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