Miami Herald – Jan 31, 2005 – Cindy Krischer Goodman – There can be valuable lessons learned from pro football as coaches strive to balance players’ lives and work.
As we head into Super Bowl Sunday this much is clear: Bill Belichick is the NFL coach players most admire. Yet in a recent survey, only 10 percent of NFL players said they would want to be on his New England Patriots team.
Belichick recruits players who are passionate about football and teamwork. He doesn’t sleep much and doesn’t expect his players too, either.
Instead of Belichick, most of the NFL players surveyed said they would like to play for Tony Dungy, who is successful with the Indianapolis Colts but who also believes there’s a wide world out there beyond the stadium.
Survey South Florida’s workforce and you just might find the same reaction. Some people thrive in an intensively competitive environment where 12-hour days are the norm. Others work to earn a living and wouldn’t or can’t put aside outside responsibilities or interests. The goal is to find the right environment for you.
”It’s important for employees when looking for a job to take the corporate culture into consideration,” says James Lavin, author of Management Secrets of the New England Patriots. “They should look at themselves to see what they value in life. People want to be the best employees they can and should work for an organization that makes them feel better about themselves.”
Here in South Florida, Stephen McGill runs his credit union much like an NFL coach. He holds daily huddles and communicates the play of the day.
”We talk about the wins and the losses of the day before and the opportunities for improvement,” say McGill, chief executive of Eastern Financial Florida Credit Union in Miramar. ‘We have a very distinct culture. We exist to improve our members’ financial well being. We are laser focused on that and everyone here knows what we are trying to accomplish.”
McGill doesn’t tolerate egos. His 600 employees are rewarded for teamwork, communicating with colleagues, and giving outstanding service. That may mean opening the doors early or staying 10 minutes past closing. McGill expects employees to give work their all, then go home to their outside lives.
The wide range of leadership styles prove there are many ways to bring a team to victory or a business to success. Clearly, Belichick’s style works in New England. He’s won two Super Bowls in the last three seasons and twice eliminated Dungy’s highly touted teams from the playoffs. Most of us want to be on a winning team, but finding the right workplace to fit your values can be difficult.
Miami Heat president Pat Riley says the most important criteria for anyone is to work for someone they trust.
”We live in society where people are highly ambitious,” Riley says. “People put in a lot of work hours. People who give a lot expect a lot. People who are successful want to be in organizations that are respected and admired. They have to feel they can trust the leader.”
A coach or leader’s job, Riley says, is to create an environment where everyone flourishes.
”Giving people a sense of balance is important,” he says. “But never at the expense of what you have to do to be successful as a team.”
West Palm Beach sport psychologist John Murray gets called in when an athlete needs improvement working with teammates.
”Whether it’s a team sport or a corporation, you have to have everyone on same page,” Murray says. “That is stressful for some personalities. Everyone must work hard and be team oriented or the team is going to not do as well. It’s a subtle art, the tweaking of individuals.”
H. Wayne Huizenga, owner of the Miami Dolphins and the man who built several large public companies knows that the best coaches put their best players in the best positions to win. That means admitting when someone is in the wrong position.
”That’s the toughest thing to do . . . to say it didn’t work out,” Huizenga told the fledging Leaders of Tomorrow group in Fort Lauderdale last week. “You tell them you’ve got two choices: We can move you over here to another spot in the company where your strengths are, or you can go find something else. Sometimes they stay, sometimes they leave.
“The worst mistake you can make is keep a person in a spot because he’s been loyal. You’re not being fair to that person. I think he’s better off going somewhere else and rising to the occasion in an area where he’s more comfortable.”
Lavin, who culled his insights from what has been said by and about the Patriots, says Belichick’s genius is in his recruiting.
”Most players don’t want to train 365 days. Belichick finds guys that do,” Lavin says.
“When he is recruiting he will intentionally downplay the glitz and the salary issue. He’ll sit them down and say here’s why we brought you here, how we’re going to use you and why you can help us win games. He ends up with players who expect a lot of themselves and want to be around other perfectionists.”
Herald business writer Patrick Danner contributed to this report.
Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.