Leaders Speak Up For What They Believe In So Their Teammates Will Listen 2022-02-13T23:48:01-05:00

Leaders Speak Up For What They Believe In So Their Teammates Will Listen

Today is the Super Bowl, the championship game for the National Football League. Over the decades, this game has become more than a mere sporting event. It has become a cultural phenomenon. And, like with many other major sporting events, the Super Bowl can reveal leadership stories and teach us about excellent leadership.

Joe Burrow is the quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals. He started his football college career at Ohio State and transferred to LSU.  Two years ago, the Cincinnati Bengals drafted him with the first draft choice.  Now they find themselves in the Super Bowl, and much of that is due to Burrow’s leadership.

Like many good leaders, Burrow shows his leadership by how he behaves and how he speaks. He has become a role model for his teammates. And like other leaders, Burrow shows leadership by revealing who he is and in what he believes.

According to the ESPN website, Burrow won his team over during an emotional meeting about racial injustice during the summer of 2020. The Bengals were holding a team meeting after George Floyd’s murder and the myriad protests against racial injustice across our country.

Burrow decided to address his team by telling a personal story about the racial injustice a black teammate experienced during their high school basketball days in Athens, Ohio. During one game, Burrow said, people in the stands yelled racial slurs at his friend. Burrow described being shaken and upset during the game and devastated afterwards as he sat with his friend on the team bus.

Burrow vowed to fight against such behavior for the rest of his life. A Bengals teammate said that Burrow broke down talking about it. This black teammate said that Burrow’s remarks meant a lot to the team and highlighted his inherent leadership.

“He won the team over real quick, every leader has that moment,” said a former Bengals staff member who attended the meeting.

Joe Burrow‘s father confirmed the accuracy of this story. “I think it opened his eyes that something like that could happen,” he said. “For us just the normal core values we grew up with: always show respect, treat people with respect no matter who they are, what your background is, and be willing to help others when you can.”“

His father added that Joe Burrow gravitated toward leadership on every team he joined dating back to youth sports.  Now, as a quarterback on a Super Bowl team, Burrow tends to talk infrequently but, as cornerback Mike Hilton said, “when he does speak, everybody listens. “

That quote reminds me of the old EF Hutton motto: “When EF Hutton talks, people listen.”

The same thing applies to leaders. All leaders have a wonderful opportunity each day to stand up for what they believe in, to share their lessons with teammates in the workplace, and to show up embodying their core principles.

Do you strive to live your best leadership life every day for your teammates? I hope so!