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Corporate America Imitates…College Football??

Corporate America Imitates…College Football??

By Kurt Webber, TPG Consultant

As a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say I have a passion for my Sooners on the gridiron. Just ask my family…Saturday’s in the fall are intense at my house.

With that said, I must admit that I have found more than a little bit of humor in the recent meltdown the Texas Longhorns had this season.  But as I thought about it, is what happened and is happening in Austin any different than what happens in Corporate America every day?  Follow me on this one.

You have a seasoned head coach (CEO) who has enjoyed great success in the past.  In fact, his team played for it all just last year. But in a short 4 month period of time, it has all fallen apart.  You see, when thing were going well, everyone was happy.  The moment things went sour, the head coach (CEO) started blaming the other coaches (senior/mid-level managers) and players (employees) for all of their problems.  Attendance (profits) started falling and fans (customers) were disenchanted.  Their expected “service” was at rock bottom

So what happened?  The coordinators and position coaches (senior/mid-level managers) started to leave, either by choice or were forced out.    Plus, the players (employees) started to in-fight and lost all motivation to perform.  Many of these players are now thinking of transferring (looking for another job) or just quitting.  Furthermore, the new recruits (potential star employees) don’t know if they want to play (work) for this team (company) with the situation as it stands today.

How is this situation any different than what we see every day in Corporate America?  A CEO who is detached from the day to day workings of his/her company is more than willing to “throw everyone under the bus” to save his/her reputation.  How many times do we see the lack of leadership by a CEO and their unwillingness to personally accept the blame when bad times hit?  When things are going well, leadership, or the lack thereof, is hidden due to profits, customer satisfaction and perceived employee satisfaction.  True leadership and a strong foundation of trust is evident when business takes a quick down turn, but all employees are in full support of the CEO.  They will work with the CEO to right the ship, not jump off as quickly as they can.

Who knows how long this will affect a football team.  It could be for one year, or it could take 5 years to pull things back together.  The length of time is solely dependent on whether or not a strong foundation is in place, or isn’t in place.  But I do know this; in Corporate America, the type of behavior shown by the head coach (CEO) is far reaching and tears deep into the core of an organization.  The effects can be avoided, or at the very least minimized if programs and processes are in place to strive to continue to build a great place to work…as opposed to doing all you can to blame others for your shortsightedness and lack of vision.

A proactive CEO understands that it is the employees, not him/her that drives success, which in turn will make them successful.  I’m just glad that my team has a CEO that understands the true meaning of leadership, the value of teamwork, and the importance of values, honesty, and integrity…a head coach that leads by taking the blame when things are tough, but takes little or no credit when success is achieved.  That’s a CEO I want to play for!

Kurt is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma where he received his bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Public Relations. He and his wife Melissa are proud parents of two teenagers, Zachary and Madison. In his spare time, he enjoys attending his kid’s vast array of activities, reading books on WWII history and cheering on his beloved Sooners.

1 Comment

  1. Sonia Jaspal 14 years ago

    Excellent metaphor used and agree with you completely. The CEO is the driver of the culture, if he/she is unable to walk the talk, take tough decisions and hold themselves accountable for failure, the team is going to collapse.

    Unfortunately in corporate world, CEO wants to take credit for good things and holds the team responsibile for downturns. Likes the limelight. A lesson to be learnt from sports. It is the players who get all the honours when a game is one, and it is coach who is questioned when a game is lost. Coaches take a lot of flak to build a winning team. CEos could be similarly humble.

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