5 Leadership Lessons Learned from Super Bowl 50

Here are five lessons that jumped out at me from Denver’s surprising and dominating 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.

 1.  Know Your Strength – Play to that Strength. 

They knew what they did best and that was playing dominating defense.  With Peyton Manning on your team it might be tempting to return to that previous identity.  But they kept that focus and built confidence in their current strength.  Even when most predicted a Carolina win, they stayed with their strength.  Most importantly, Even in the game when Carolina’s defense stifled their offense, they didn’t panic but stayed the course.  Leaders know who they are and play to their strength. 

2. Be Persistent – Pressure Presents Opportunities. 

Von Miller lead the Denver defense by keeping the pressure on Carolina’s quarterback Cam Newton.  Play after play, they kept coming, eventually sacking him 6 times.  In the process, they took Cam out of his game, causing turnovers and creating great opportunities to score.  Leaders keep coming, time after time after time after time until the victory is secure. 

3.  Be Flexible – Especially when You are already a Proven Success 

Payton Manning had been the “go to” guy for the first 17 years of his career.  But this year was different.  He had a new coach, a new system and needed a new approach.  Instead of being the one who carried the team, this time he would simply play a smaller role, even letting the team carry him.  So he adapted, changed his role and the team won with a dominating defense. The team and Manning leveraged the power he had left.  When his physical talents waned, he changed his role.     Great teams leverage the power they presently possess. 

4.  Be Willing to Learn – Failure Is a Great Opportunity to Grow 

Denver was humiliated by Seattle just two years before.  But instead of pouting or insisting they had the best plan, they made radical changes.  John Elway and the front office changed players, coaches, schemes and even their identity to achieve their ultimate success.  Even though they were better than almost everyone else, they were willing to radically change to improve.  Increase your Power by examining what radical changes are needed to enjoy the ultimate success. 

5.  Be Gracious – Your Reaction becomes Your Reputation

Cam Newton was named league MVP the night before the Super Bowl.  He flashed his fancy pants, proudly portrayed his Superman gesture and basked in all the glory of the Super Bowl hype.  He was on top of the world.  But then Superman met his match, was taken out of his game and suffered a painful, public failure in losing. In the post-game press conference, he pouted, hardly engaged and then walked off early, giving the press a different and very unflattering story to write.

Meanwhile, Peyton Manning built a reputation of maturity, class and poise throughout his career, even when losing.  Just two years before, he sat in that same seat after being humiliated by the Seahawks.  But he behaved far better.  He knew he was not bigger than the game or his team.  No wonder the press respected Manning for his leadership on and off the field.

Cam Newton needs to learn to be gracious in defeat.  As leaders, it is easy to be loud and proud when we win but we are wise to understand that our character is often established when we lose.  Great leaders remember that it is always about the game, the team and the purpose – it is not about them.  Learn to be gracious in defeat.  

3D PWR Tip: It really is NOT about you.  It is about the ultimate team success.

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NSA logoDr. Loren Murfield works with aspiring and emerging leaders to create radical change.  Check out my new Online Leadership Power Leveraging Platform at www.PWRuniversity.com.  While there, download your FREE eBook, “The 9 Critical Components of Leadership Power.”

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