Leadership & Lovie Smith

I was privileged last week to attend the Chicago Bears Partnership Summit. idegy (my organization) is an official partner of the Bears and have been invited to this event for the past several years.  It is a first class event and the Bears do a fantastic job of putting it together.  It is evident when you attend an event like this that they are not only a great football team but a very well run business as well but that is a discussion altogether.

One of the components of the Summit was the opportunity to sit in the Bears locker room with a small group and have about 60 minutes to listen to Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo discuss the team and their thoughts on leadership.  This was truly the highlight of my day as I am leadership geek and always love to hear what people have to say about their personal thoughts on leading organizations.  These guys did not disappoint but perhaps the most intriguing topic was one that was only discussed for a short time but the most telling aspect of the discussion was the manner in which it was addressed.

Let me set this up by telling you that I am not a huge fan of either the Bears or Coach Smith.  I did not dislike them…just did not have a strong opinion either way.  I can also tell you that changed after I spent some time listening to the leadership of both the organization and the team.  So here is the question that piqued my interest, “Coach Smith, is it difficult to manage a coaching staff where 3 of your coaches are previous head coaches in the NFL?”  To set the stage for this it is important to know the following folks are on the Bears coaching staff:

Lovie’s response was fantastic on many levels.  He simply said, “My job as the Bears head coach is to put together the best coaching staff I can that gives us the best chance to win.”  He didn’t belabor the point or pontificate on how he was able to accomplish this.  The focus throughout his responses (this one included) was to talk about the team and staff in context of the goals of their organization.  Regardless of how many times he was asked about “him”, the responses were always about the team and that was impressive.

Based on Coach Smith’s response I have the following questions:

  • How many leaders would go out and recruit other strong-willed, experienced folks to be on their team?
  • Once you answer that question, then think about the practical application of the action.  So you go out and get these three guys who have been in  your shoes and put them in leadership roles on your team…now what?
  • How do you lead leaders?  To be candid, isn’t that the goal of leadership?
  • Don’t true leaders want other leaders on their team and not followers?
  • I know I am making a semantic argument here but I believe it is critical because if you are leading a team of leaders, would you act differently than if you thought you were leading a team of followers?

Needless to say, I am much more a fan of Coach Smith than I was before I heard him speak.  The more I think about his leadership style & talent given what we know, the more I am impressed.   There is much more to be learned here so feel free to chime in!

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