Thoughts on Leadership: Leadership Lessons from the Super Bowl

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels first found me first in Midtown Manhattan, for dinner with a Berkshire Hathaway Commercial Real Estate prospect. Next, it was off to Farmingdale, New Jersey to celebrate the merging of Gloria Nilson & Co. Real Estate with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS® and The Trident Group. As CEO of Gloria Nilson & Co. Real Estate Pat Bell mentioned in her speech during that momentous event, the powerful combination of these two brokerages will generate incredible accomplishments for all. Fox & Roach, REALTORS®, led by CEO Larry Flick V, Chairman Larry Flick IV and President Joan Docktor, is a company with a legacy of greatness dating back to 1886. Now more than 6,000 strong, they will continue to grow and be unmatched in their ability to serve the real estate needs of their new and existing clients.

And on Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl, which garnered several leadership lessons we can all take to heart. It’s incredible that an entire lifetime of legacy can be solidified over the span of a single game—or even a single catch—but once you win that coveted trophy, your status as champion remains forever.

A stunning example of leadership perseverance was Andy Reid, the Chiefs’ head coach. Before the game in Miami, Reid was the winningest head coach without an NFL title with 221 wins. His 222nd win would turn out to be the one we’ll always remember.

“You get one [win], you want to go get another one,” Reid said after the career-defining game. “But we’ve got to backpedal for a minute and enjoy this one and [then] we’ll get busy on the next one.”

Like Reid emphasized in his post-game words, a persistent leader is focused on the future; there is no resting on the laurels of your last win, there is only forward movement toward even more victories yet to come.

Still, this victory is one Reid deserves to relish for a little bit longer. Before these past seven years spent as head coach of the Chiefs, Reid was head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles for 14 seasons. Collectively, the teams he head-coached over his career reached the playoffs 15 times, won 10 division titles and reached conference championships seven times. Even with this impressive resume, Reid still had no Super Bowl win. Sunday marked Andy’s very first Super Bowl win and he achieved it on the last game of the league’s 100th season.

Not too bad for someone the local press deemed would be “eaten alive” when he first joined the Eagles as head coach in 1999. During his tenure with the Eagles he garnered 120 wins and sent 19 players to 44 Pro Bowl appearances. Still, his team finished 4-12 in his 14th and final season coaching the Eagles (Reid’s worst record to date) and so he’d have to take his characteristic perseverance elsewhere.

When he joined the Chiefs they too were in a rough spot. The team just had their worst season in franchise history—with a 2-14 record—and looked to Reid to turn things around. (As the story goes, he did.)

Perhaps Reid’s reputation as a hard worker and diligent, forever-student of the game stems from his heritage, which can be traced back to Bill Walsh and the West Coast Offense. In 1982, Reid accepted his first job as a graduate assistant at Brigham Young University, working under head coach LaVell Edwards who was an early adopter of Walsh’s West Coast Offense. Walsh implemented the model as an offensive coordinator for Paul Brown’s Cincinnati Bengals, where he successfully guided BYU alum Virgil Carter to capitalize on his strengths. Reid was witness to Edwards’ version of the West Coast Offense from his very first job, which ties him ironically back to the San Francisco 49ers and the great leadership of Bill Walsh as a Bill Walsh disciple. Another connection to Walsh is that Reid was hired by Mike Holmgren at Green Bay and Holmgren coached the 49ers quarterbacks from 1986 to 1988 under head coach Bill Walsh.

In a November 2018 interview with Sports Illustrated, former Eagles president Joe Banner explained the process of hiring Reid for his head coach position: “I don’t recall who first raised Andy’s name to us. What I do remember is panning coaches and players and agents, laying out our criteria for the job, and asking, ‘Give me the name of someone, regardless of job or title, whom you’ve met and immediately thought, ‘This guy is a great leader.’ And Andy’s name kept coming up.”

So, what’s the message? As a pivotal moment for a winning coach who was previously without the big win, this year’s Super Bowl proves that if you have the mindset to never give up, anything is possible.

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