Forgive me if my mind is more on football this time of year than on playgrounds. Where I live, the playgrounds are all buried under mounds of snow right now, so I have nothing better to do with my time than to think football.
As we pass the halfway point in the NFL season, I can’t help but look back on the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneer team. First-year head coach Jon Gruden led that team to a Super Bowl victory, and I believe that he’s got a lot of the characteristics of a highly effective leader. In fact, I’d say that Gruden has the traits that should be found in many industries, including the park and recreation field.
It’s amazing how his leadership ability was able to take a talented team to the next level. The $8 million that the Buc’s owners paid to lure him from Oakland turned out to be quite a bargain, to say the least. So how can we apply Gruden’s attributes to our industry? Here are some of the qualities that helped him guide the Bucs to the top.
Recognition. Gruden didn’t have to, but he acknowledged his predecessor, Tony Dungy, for building the team. This can be applied to our field as well. We should recognize those who help us reach our goals. It’s easy to take credit when things go well, but in the long run, you’re better off sharing the accolades.
Hard work. Coach Gruden claims to start each day at 3:17 a.m. To be honest, I’m not sure my alarm clock even has a 3:17 a.m. As a park and rec manager you don’t have to go that far, but in order to have success, you must work hard.
Attitude. John Lynch, one of the Buc’s defensive players said, “From day one, Jon Gruden came in and told us we were winning a championship.” An attitude like that will have a big impact on the people you work with. Negativity can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Energy. As a manager, you set the tone. Many people have spoken about the contagious nature of Gruden’s energy. If you’re down, so are those around you. High energy will rub off too.
Focus. In order to be successful, you must understand the importance of focus in the leadership formula. Knowing what is important to you and your organization will help you avoid getting sidetracked by other non-important matters.
Grace. Even though it was his old team that he defeated in Super Bowl XXXVII, Gruden threw no jabs at his former team. If you plan on playing this game a long time, you’d better learn to be gracious when you win.
Improvement. Within 24 hours of winning the big game, Gruden was already talking about making the Bucs even better. Some people would be content just to win one, but you know Gruden will have his team in position for another run this season.
As you looked at some of the characteristics of Coach Gruden, it’s important to acknowledge the importance of an incremental approach. Tampa Bay was a good team before Gruden arrived. Small, positive changes can bring big positive changes.
You’re not a football coach, but Gruden’s example can make you a better manager. Start working to improve your own traits and see if they don’t help you achieve success.
Look back at this list and pick one item that you can start working on today. Once you feel you have that characteristic down pat, start working on another. Soon you’ll become that “super” manager that you have the ability to be.