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You Can’t Rush Greatness

Bill Belichick

Patience is a virtue, but for some of the best leaders, it can also be a victory.

Winning consistently is one of the most difficult mountains to climb both in sports and the business world. Only a select few are able to find true stability in success, but even fewer find job security when they’re unsuccessful. NFL helmets will clash for the last time this season on Super Bowl Sunday, but many organizations have already licked the envelopes on their pink slips and delivered them with ease.

Since the final week of the NFL’s regular season, six head coaches have been fired. Four of them were let go on the day following their final game—regardless of whether they won or lost. Referred to as Black Monday, the day after the last game of the regular season has become a common date for leadership casualties. Not wanting to wait long into the official NFL off-season to make changes, many of the franchises act swiftly to shake up the management and try a new combination that could take away the sting of a disappointing year. Dating back to just December of 2012, fifteen head coaches and seven general managers have been relieved of their duties. But for several teams, the coaching carousel has created more challenges than solutions.

A recent article in the Washington Post painted a clear picture of stability and success within the workplace as it relates to NFL franchises. By charting the management decisions of 32 of the NFL’s multi-million dollar organizations over the course of 14 years, it gives great insight to one factor that might help teams go from good to great… stability. The teams that win the most have kept their leadership consistent – even in bad years. The New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers all have posted a success rate higher than 60 percent since the year 1999. All four of those franchises have had the same ownership since 1999. All have had four head coaches or fewer leading the team during that 14-year period.

NFL Head Coaches Chart

In contrast, franchises like the Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins have changed coaches at least seven different times during that stretch. Their win-loss record over that span is well below a 50 percent success rate. In cases like Oakland, Miami and Washington, the quick trigger to clean house and start over with new leadership seems to have stunted their overall ability to sustain a successful culture.

The lesson here, for me, is the importance of stability. The desire for immediate profit has become such a common seam in the way we fashion our business views. It’s natural—and good practice – to always strive for success and continuous improvement. The great ones establish a culture and design it for success. The not-so-great ones often overlook the process it takes to establish a successful culture, focus solely on the current circumstance, and quickly default to spinning the wheel and landing on new leadership contestants.

How stable is your culture? How has either the stability or the constant leadership transitions affected your company’s bottom-line? As you strive for success within the company, are you viewing it through a short term scope or a long term lens? Visit my Facebook Page, and as always, join the discussion today!

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Certified Speaking Professional (CSP)

About Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), longtime Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated, 11-time New York Times best-selling author, leadership expert and executive coach.

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