Friday, January 27, 2017

Important CEO Lesson from This Year's NFL Super Bowl Coaches

Last weekend's Wall Street Journal had an interesting article on the head coaches of the four remaining NFL teams (of which two, the Falcons and Patriots, will now play in Super Bowl LI).

Out of the four coaches, three of them were what the article called "CEO coaches", by which they meant that the coach did not call offensive or defensive plays.

All head coaches in the NFL get hired based upon their proven performance as a defensive or offensive coordinator.  But, as super-coach Marshall Goldsmith has said "What got you here, won't get you there."

In the article, former Ravens coach "Brian Billick said that being a play caller and head coach is like having two 24/7 jobs." The article went on to mention statistics that the head coaches who were previously hotshot offensive coordinators, and continued to call plays, saw their offensive stats fall.

This leads to one of the most important lessons for success as a CEO or senior manager.  It is also, in my 27 years of experience, one of the most important lessons for driving innovation:

You have to get out of the weeds or, stated another way, see the forest from the trees.

A leader and/or innovator needs to get away from focusing on details in one area, and be able to see the whole picture.

As I learned from super-consultant Alan Weiss, the way to move your perspective up is to ask "Why?", while you move down by asking "How?".