At this time of the year, it seems everyone is talking about football, and as a Senior Medical Advisor of Super Bowl 50, I have an insider’s view of what makes teams successful in the NFL. Being both a practicing physician and a management consultant, I can’t help but see the parallels between successful football teams and successful organizations. While having a 350 pound lineman might not help professional organizations increase profits, having strong leadership, common goals and a team mentality can mean the difference between success and failure.
- Strong Leadership – The best coaches in the NFL realize the unique skill set of each player on the roster and utilize them all in a way that positions the team for success. Winners like Belichick, Payton, Coughlin and others have a way of inspiring their players, both individually and as a team, even at the toughest moments. Those players then rally and give it all they have. Leaders have just as strong an impact in business as they do in sports, and oftentimes they can make the difference in whether a project is a success or not.
- Common Goals – Another important element of a team’s success is the common goal they share. Everyone from the players, the coaches, the training staff, the front office, and even the concessions are aligned to achieve one goal: to win the Super Bowl. In Business there is no Super Bowl, only competitive advantage. It is up to leadership to determine how they achieve that, but if that strategy isn’t clear to the rest of the organization, it is unlikely they’ll succeed.
- Team Mentality – Every team in the NFL has talented players, but some are more focused on personal fame and glory than winning together; that mindset becomes an impediment to a team’s success. A winning team’s purpose is bigger than any individual, and that is a principle that applies both on the field and in the office. The best teams also share a culture of commitment, collegiality, communication and work together on problems to ensure mutual success.
The above list certainly isn’t comprehensive, but I’m sure you’ll find those three qualities in any Super Bowl team. If you’re looking for a winning team before February 7, look no farther than the individuals who run and produce the Big Game and see how they work with the players to achieve their goals. This group embodies the ideas I mentioned above, and they have a lot of fun while doing it. An event as monumental as the Super Bowl could never happen without that team, and I can’t wait learn to more from them this Sunday!