As a passionate Eagles fan, Sunday’s Super Bowl victory was as incredible as it was improbable. The Eagles beat the reigning champs (and the odds) to bring home Philadelphia’s first Lombardi Trophy, pure magic
When I’m not watching football, I spend my time engineering leadership in corporate settings, and this epic season has given me a lot to marvel at from a professional perspective. Forgive me if you’re not a football fan, but are a few of the takeaways from the game that I’m thinking about:
Effective leadership styles vary. On one sideline stood the Patriots’ Head Coach Bill Belichick who represents a coach’s coach with a totalitarian vision that has materialized into an NFL dynasty. The Eagles ownership admired Belichick so much that in 2013 they tried replicating him by hiring Chip Kelly, another autocrat of sorts. By the end of Kelly’s brief tenure, he had alienated the locker room, front office, and fans, alike. Contrasting Belichick, Kelly’s successor Doug Pederson is a relaxed players’ coach who encourages the team to express their individualism. In just Pederson’s second season he has already guided the team to a championship. This serves as a reminder that there’s no singular formula for effective leadership.
Leadership is stepping up. “Leader” doesn’t appear on a starting lineup or org chart. The title is defined by how and why a job is executed, not what the job is. Leadership is earned through character, accountability, and inspiration. The once-forgotten backup, Nick Foles decided to eschew a risk-prevention “game manager” approach, and courageously traded punches with Captain America on his way to becoming Super Bowl MVP. And all season, Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long sacrificed commercial appeal and game checks to champion social causes of historical proportions. Combined, these acts revealed faith and grit that surely gave the team a sense of higher purpose.
It’s all about the team. Sure, the Eagles enjoyed individual heroics from the likes of Pederson, Foles, Jenkins, and Brandon Graham – to name a few. However, their achievement was ultimately a total team effort. They won the Super Bowl without their best player (Carson Wentz) and several future Hall of Famers who were lost to injury. Overcoming this adversity speaks to both a strong succession plan and a “next man up” mindset. But beyond maintaining a deep bench of talent, this Eagles team possessed undeniably great chemistry and rapport. They’ve danced, prayed, linked arms, and competed together. It’s no coincidence that the best team in the league also produced the most fun touchdown celebrations:
Go birds! 2018 Super Bowl Champs!