Thursday, March 01, 2012

Leadership Lessons from the NFL Draft

In just under two months, the Super Bowl for the Cleveland Browns will commence. It's called the NFL Draft. Being a Browns fan, this is one of the biggest sporting events each year as maybe, just maybe, THIS will be the Draft that turns things around for them (granted, we're still waiting for that to happen). And with the big prize being RGIII from Baylor, the excitement is palpable.

But this post is not about the Browns, but rather the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are slated to pick #3 in the Draft, right between the Rams at #2 and the Browns at #4. At the present time, there is all sorts of speculation and conjecture about what the Rams will do at #2. It is virtually guaranteed that a team - Cleveland, Washington, and Miami being the most likely suitors - will sacrifice several draft picks for the right to move up to that #2 position in order to draft RGIII, the electric QB from Baylor. At least one writer hopes that it ends up being the Browns.

What does that have to do with Minnesota and leadership? As it turns out, quite a bit.

In week 16 of the 2011 season, the Vikings beat the Washington Redskins 33-26. After the game, head coach Leslie Frazier seemed quite pleased with the results. The problem with that is that, by winning, the Vikings improved their record enough to move into the 3rd slot of the Draft instead of the 2nd. That being said, by winning that one meaningless game in December they missed out on an opportunity to pick up perhaps three first-round picks and probably more. As it stands instead, they will likely get a nice offensive lineman. Offensive linemen are good, but one of them compared to the haul of quality players they could have had certainly pales in comparison. Which raises the question:

Should they have tanked the season?

One writer suggests that winning that game was the worst thing the Vikings did with regards to the upcoming draft.

Would it have been better leadership to maybe put a gameplan in place to give them a better chance of losing and a better draft choice?


A leader needs to know his current context and be able to look far down the road and see how the decisions he makes now will affect the long-term stability and quality of the organization. And if it would benefit the organization in the long run to make difficult decisions to sacrifice the good for the better, he must make those decisions.

OK, I'll admit it, I've never been an NFL player or head coach (not that this is news to anyone), and I don't know what I would have done in that particular position. But as a leader, part of my job is to look far down the road, not just at the task in front of me. I need to be able to see the preferred future and make decisions based on that, not on what will bring immediate gratification. If that means making decisions that tick people off or that look like the completely wrong decisions in the present, I still have to be able to pull the trigger. Jesus saw the long distance view when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Not my will, but Yours be done." His immediate right decision would have been to call on angels to save Him, but the preferred future called for a different, far more difficult decision. He sacrificed the good for the better. And that is what we must do as leaders.

What good present thing must you sacrifice for the your better future or that of your organization?

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