In business, as in sports, there is nothing more frustrating than a poorly executed meeting. Whether you are stuck in an office conference room listening to a droning, directionless boss or huddled up on the field with a queasy, indecisive quarterback, your confidence, productivity and competitive edge are bound to plummet.
That’s why every great leader—be they coach, captain, division head or CEO—knows that in order to spur high performance, meetings (and huddles) must be focused, disciplined and inspirational.
This principle of Great Teams was most poignantly reinforced for me four years ago at Madison Square Garden, as I watched Villanova face off against Louisville in the 2013 Big East Tournament quarterfinals. Every time Villanova called a time out the players moved their chairs out towards the middle of the floor so that—as the starters sat down—the rest of the team could encircle them, arm-in-arm, forming a protective cocoon. Everyone was present. Everyone was dialed in.
It took all of fifteen minutes for sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson to bring up Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live locker room fiasco during CBS’s nationally televised broadcast of the AFC Championship game. And while her broadcast booth cohorts quickly refocused viewer attention on the Tom Brady special unfolding on the field, the mention of Brown’s week-old off-field antics underscore a topic I’ve been thinking about for a while now.
Consider this: What happened to Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin could happen to any boss across America. Brown’s unauthorized live streaming of his coach’s post-victory pep-rant from inside the locker room, provided the world with an unfiltered view of the team’s most intimate interactions. It also accentuates how distracting and damaging a single player’s (or employee’s) indiscriminate use of a social media platform can be to the collective efforts of a team (or company). The Steelers should be been single-mindedly focused on surmounting the very real (not real-time) challenges that crop up on the road to a Super Bowl championship. instead they were swept up in a self-induced maelstrom.
As I sat in my living room watching the final seconds tick away—and the Clemson Tigers posted a dramatic come-from behind victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide to claim the NCAA Division 1 College football championship—I got to thinking about my favorite topic: Greatness.
I’ve studied Greatness for more than 25 years—interviewed the world’s top athletes (Michael Jordan, Walter Payton and John Smoltz) and most acclaimed coaches (John Wooden, Tony Dungy and Joe Maddon). I can say, unabashedly, that I consider myself a bit of an authority on the subject.
Yet as I watched Clemson’s Dabo Swinney embrace Alabama coach Nick Saban at game’s end I felt like a giddy novice—an armchair amateur mesmerized by the unmitigated greatness of two men who had each commanded a crew of some one hundred young athletes to compete for college football’s loftiest summit.