How Bad Teams Become Great – Part 2

In part 1 of this series, we looked at three NFL ( teams who had an exceptional season sandwiched between two disappointing ones.  The objective of these posts is to identify the success links that these teams had in common needed to produce that great season and are necessary for our organizations to have a much-needed performance spike.

Six links were discovered.  They will be listed below along with applications to your church, team, business, or organization.

  1. Experienced Leadership – Food tastes better coming out of a crockpot than a microwave.  Of the three NFL teams analyzed, none had a rookie Head Coach.  It takes time for Executive Leadership to build mission, vision, and core values into an organization.  You can’t microwave this process with threats, great speeches, or the force of personality.  A performance spike will only occur after a period of time in which additional factors need to be put in place.  Impatience and over-confidence are the enemies of increased performance
  2. Tenured Assistant Coaches – For an Executive to be successful, he/she must also multiply themselves and build a leadership team that is tenured.  Each team mentioned had their Defensive Coordinators in their positions a minimum of two years as well.  This shows me that the leadership team must have a continuity and common purpose that is layered throughout the organization.  As a leader, if you are continually turning over staff hoping to “get better”, your organization will never develop the culture and DNA needed to dramatically increase performance.  The ultimate goal of this inner-circle team is to be answering questions, not asking them.
  3. Experienced Quarterback – Each team also had experienced leadership on the field as each quarterback was 30 years of age or older.  This aspect of leadership brings stability to the organization.  They have “seen it all” and been there during good and bad times.  They also have the experience of seeing what your vision could become.  They have been to the mountain top and seen the Promised Land.  As a result, they are able to take others there.  This type of leader will be a tour guide rather than a travel agent. 
  4. NFL Draft – Each team drafted an impact player during the year of their spike.  As we have demonstrated, experience matters and is a necessary element for growth but experience alone can only take you so far.  To go to the next level your organization must add an impact player.  This individual will bring an increase in skill, work ethic, passion, energy and momentum which will dramatically impact the team.  Often a young person, this impact player IS the rising tide that will lift the other ships.  Without it, the organization can have stability but not explosive growth potential.
  5. Fundamentals – You may have experience, continuity, corporate DNA, and increased talent and energy.  However, every organization that experiences explosive growth does the little things well.  You must continue to deliver quality customer service, return your phone calls, watch expenses, get to work on time, meet metrics and measurements, and do the necessary preparation for sales calls or Sunday messages.  These can be the five-cent parts that can destroy the entire effort.
  6. Key Veteran Defensive Acquisitions – While talented young people are a key to a performance spike, so is the acquisition of veteran talent to provide depth.  Each of the three teams listed added key veteran influences.  Much like the quarterback, these individuals know what being a professional is all about and set the example for daily performance.

So I ask the following questions:

  1. Has your executive leadership been in place long enough to establish mission, vision, and core values allowing for corporate DNA to be established?
  2. Do you have a leadership team in place that has been together for an extended period of time and multiplies your message? 
  3. Do you have experienced leaders in the field who have “seen it all”?
  4. Are you adding impact players to your team?
  5. Are you focused as an organization on doing the “little things” with excellence?
  6. Are you adding experienced veteran talent who model professional behavior?

If the answer to these six questions is “Yes”, then your organization may soon experience a performance spike!!!

Now as promised, which NFL teams meet these criteria and could potentially have a breakout season in 2010?  Many people are keeping an eye of the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs for good reason so I will go in a different direction just for creative purposes.

The Oakland Raiders.  Many like this team as well.  Tom Cable is beginning his 3rd year as Head Coach with Defensive Coordinator John Marshall starting his 2nd year.  Rolando McClain is going to be a major impact player from this year’s draft.  Cameron Wimbley and John Henderson have been added to the defense.  Finally, I think 28-year old Jason Campbell is going to be an excellent quarterback.  His numbers have improved  every year he’s been in the league and much like Chris Chandler, Jim Miller, and Steve McNair on the three teams analyzed, this is his 2nd NFL team.  I see the Raiders as a wild card team in the AFC playoffs this year.

The Cleveland Browns.  This is an out-of-the-box suggestion.  Eric Mangini is in his 2nd season as is Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan.  Joe Haden will be an immediate impact player coming out of this year’s draft.  He will man one corner and free agent acquisition Sheldon Brown will occupy the other corner position.  Finally, I look for 35-year old Jake Delhomme to bring a calming presence to this team.  The Browns will improve from 5-11 to perhaps 8-8.


About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.


  1. 7 Leadership Lessons From A NFL Executive « Brian Dodd On Leadership - 07/24/2010

    […] Each year because of parity, the NFL always has a team that seemingly comes from nowhere to be competitive.  The Browns are my pick to fill that role this year.  To read why, click here. […]

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