The “sports” news over the last few days has had little to do, actually, with games. Opinions, discord, protest…and now a national scandal involving college basketball coaches and the FBI.
The acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York issued indictments this week to a collection of men that represent the underbelly of the college game (college basketball coaches, Adidas shoe executives, and agents). It was also made clear that this investigation is not closed. For three years they’ve been looking at cash that flows from corporate entities like shoe companies to “amateur basketball players” through a series of adults whose job should truly have been to look out for the best interest of these young players.
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.