Every once and a while, the world of sports and business collide. This is one of those times. And as a retired NFL quarterback – and unbiased, third-party observer – I would be remiss not to discuss the latest power struggle between player and coach.
In this case, the difference of opinion is between former NFL MVP and Super Bowl Champion, Aaron Rodgers, and his rookie head coach, Matt LaFleur.
In case you’re not caught up in this recent tiff, allow me to set the stage:
Aaron Rodgers, who is a proven, veteran quarterback with a very healthy resume and someone who has accomplished almost everything an NFL quarterback can hope to accomplish, is butting heads with Matt LaFleur, a very talented, offensive-minded coach who stepped onto the scene as a play caller and quickly escalated to the role of first-time head coach of the Green Bay Packers.
The struggle lies in strategy. LaFleur wants to implement a stricter system that prevents Rodgers the freedom to audible at the line of scrimmage. In other words, LaFleur is interested in running an offense that restricts Rodgers from making game-time decisions and reacting to the circumstances on the field.
The good news: both have acknowledged this difference of opinion and are working on trying come to the best possible solution.
This easily relates to business because young, up-and-coming employees quickly ascend into leadership roles and are often faced with challenging leadership situations like that of LaFleur. When tasked with making the final decision, these folks fall back on tactical solutions, or in LaFleur’s case, the system.
Herein lies the issue: there will be millions of young, talented employees who thrived in their tactical role and because of their success, will be stepping into leadership positions. The problem is that they are armed with outdated, tactical responses instead of taking the time to understand the situation and assess and address it correctly.
At Solutions 21, we believe the main reason for this strategy is the lack of development of 21st-century leadership skills. Too often we rely on things that we learned along the way from our mentors rather than investing the time to develop the leadership skills necessary to navigate a new leadership landscape.
In the case of Rodgers and LaFleur: I have no doubt the Packers will resolve this issue before the start of their season. It comes with the territory. There is mutual respect and understanding between a coach and their quarterback. It did, however, draw a red flag because this first-time head coach fell back on a tactic (the system) rather than utilizing the muscle-memory habits he has built over his years in leadership positions.
Leadership skills are precious. If we continue to turn a blind eye to the intentional development of these skills, unnecessary strife will result, which can ultimately lead to the inability to lead effectively.
Whether in sports or business, if critical leadership skills continue to go untapped, losing will be the inevitable result. And that is certainly not the name of the game.