SUPER BOWL SERIES | PART TWO | CONFIDENCE VS. ARROGANCE
As you’ve read in our last two blog posts, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that we’ve seen so much in the Seattle Seahawks this year that translate to the leadership and business cultures we work with. For one, they knew they had something special in the Seattle fans, so rather then trying to control them with marketing, they released them and invited into the organization as a part of the team, The 12th MAN. Secondly, we see the team having a lot of fun, but we realize that fun is not a corporate value; it’s the result of great culture. It’s a fruit, not a root.
READ LAST TWO POSTS HERE:
Culture of Seattle’s 12th Man
The Seahawks Super Bowl Winning Culture | Part One | Fun is a By-product not a Goal
Before we get started, it’s important to clarify that a great culture is not about what we recently heard from a group of business leaders recognized as having the best places to work as reported by their employees in a confidential poll. A great culture may include but is not defined by allowing employees to work from home, providing free childcare, a company gym, ping-pong in the workspace, warm and fuzzy company values, free beer Fridays or group therapy meetings. While a great culture may include any or all of these perks, a true great culture is more about what we all observed watching in this year’s Super Bowl: Superior performance by a bunch of individuals working together as one unified team and having a ton of fun doing it.
So what can we learn about high performance culture from the Seattle Seahawks and their recent overpowering Super Bowl win? Great cultures go deep. As noted earlier we’ll take a look at each root cause characteristic from the perspective of Seahawk leaders and team members starting at the top with owner Paul Allen.
Owner Paul Allen: “It’s such an amazing feeling to be able to take the Lombardi Trophy back to the people of the Northwest and the 12th man who supported us in such an amazing way all year. I have to give so much credit to Pete Carroll and John Schneider for putting this team together.”
Head Coach Pete Carroll: “This is an amazing team… I’m so proud to be part of them and all the work that John has done to put this thing together.”
Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith: “I’m just here to represent the defense, honestly… I’m here but it’s definitely on behalf of them.”
Wide Receiver Jermaine Kearse on his amazing touchdown catch and run: “Just trying to make a play for our team.”
President Harry S. Truman once said, “There is no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.” We could go on and on with quote after quote of Hawk leaders and team members ignoring self while building their leaders and teammates up. Even outspoken defensive back Richard Sherman, speaks more highly of his teammates than he does himself when he’s not in the heat of the battle or all charged up about a competitor talking head about him to the media.
Conversely, hubris seems to be an ugly attitude that grabs successful human beings buy the throat, gets them reading their own news clippings, drinking their own Kool-Aid and ultimately falling on the sword of their own self-oriented grandiose. These guys must be students of Truman because they seem to truly value others on their team and their fans above themselves. This true humility seems to always come out when they are asked about their own successful achievements. It is such a refreshing feel from world champion athletes.
Something about these guys is keeping them humble in spite of all of their talent and success. It’s got to be the way they are being led. Hopefully Paul, John, Pete and Russell keep this attitude alive and well for seasons to come because the 12th man loves it and their competitors don’t know how to deal with it.
CONFIDENCE VS ARROGANCE
Head Coach Pete Carroll: “We just played the way we always play.”
Winning Quarterback Russell Wilson: “Believe in the talent God has given you even though you’re only 5’ 11.”
These guys seem to exude a confidence in their talent, their ability, their teammates, their leaders and their ability to put all of these together and just be themselves. Carroll was recently spotted in a hotel lobby playfully engaging with children the day before the Super Bowl. How can he be so playful on the eve of the biggest challenge of his life? How can his players be so loose and play so poised while the superior offense of their competitor tightens up and makes a costly 2 point mistake on the first play of the game and then never seem to get it together from then on?
This unique combination of confidence and humility, knowing that they are great and wearing it well seems to be a key element in their culture and ultimately, their success. What happened to the era of beating the daylights out of your competition to prove that you’re the king of the mountain? These guys seem to be know that they’re superior before the first whistle blows and not get puffed about it. Then they wear it so well that they can stay loose, play their best, win big and then give all the credit to their teammates when it’s done. Should corporate executives and business leaders adopt a new best practice of playing with kids to relieve stress before their biggest challenges to prove how confident they are? Sadly, this surface level thinking is what has so many organizations stuck with short-term results instead of long-term superior performance. Stay tuned and perhaps we can discover Carroll’s root cause best practice instead.