Is New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan A Great Leader?

Periodically something or someone comes along who doesn’t fit our nice leadership box.  Their approach to their task or people is so unorthodox that much like a car wreck, we just can’t seem to take our eyes of them.  They are the best of leaders and the worst of leaders almost simultaneously.  Often, they don’t look like a leader.  They don’t sound like a leader.  Further and deeper examination to their approach is required. 

After their stunning win over the New England Patriots in the second round of the NFL play-offs, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan is a very successful leader who demands our attention.  

Here’s the question worth exploring – Is Rex Ryan a great leader?

The Case Against

  1. Ryan, in essence, co-hosted the profanity laced Hard Knocks earlier this year embarrassing the Jets and the league.
  2. As a result, he entered into a war-of-words with the highly respected Tony Dungy.
  3. He was involved in a sexual harassment issue with a female Mexican reporter.
  4. His weight and undisciplined lifestyle are constantly under scrutiny.
  5. He continually is a source of irritation for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
  6. He and his wife’s fetishes became a source of national amusement.

Now the case for Rex Ryan being a great leader:

  1. In two years as a head coach, he has led the Jets to two consecutive AFC Championship games.
  2. The Jets finished the year with the NFL’s 3rd best defense.
  3. This has happened despite extremely sub-par quarterback play.
  4. Ryan is universally respected throughout the league as an innovative and talented game-day strategist.
  5. Ryan gets maximum effort and production from his players.
  6. The players are highly loyal to Ryan.
  7. The players want to win for Ryan.
  8. Ryan knows how to coach veteran personnel.
  9. Ryan does not confuse activity with accomplishment.
  10. His personality and temperament are perfect for the New York market.
  11. Like it or not, he backs up his trash talk.

After reviewing the two cases, we must side with the defense.  Rex Ryan is a great leader.  The two litmus test questions for leaders are “Is anyone following you?’ and “Do you produce?”  Ryan gets high passing grades on both.

However, the question then is not whether Ryan is a great leader or not in 2011.  He is.  The question is whether his leadership style is sustainable?  Can he continue to be a great leader in the future?  I predict that Ryan’s talent has taken him where his character will be unable to sustain him.

Your thoughts?  

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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.

4 Responses to “Is New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan A Great Leader?”

  1. Nice post! Rex annoys me sometimes because of his public persona. I respect him though, because his success is a manifestation of the work he puts in” behind the scenes”. That is one thing that great leaders do: prepare behind the scenes! That preparation produces incredible confidence.

    No one is perfect, but I think Rex is a good leader that can become great.

    As always, great work, Brian!

  2. Results are not the only way to define a leader. Results certainly are in the mix, but to be a “great” leader requires a definition for “great” – and for me that includes integrity, honesty, character, and sustained results.


  1. What Church and Business Leaders Can Learn About Success From The … | Church Ministry Center - 01/26/2011

    […] there is, regardless of the industry.  With yesterday’s 24-19 AFC Championship win over the New York Jets, the Steelers advanced to their record-tying 8th Super […]

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