I’ve long been a Denver Broncos fan, and now that I live in Seattle, I’ve also become a big fan of the Seahawks. That means I’ve watched a lot of good football this year, and noticed that these teams are more than groups of talented athletes. The Seahawks and Broncos are successful organizations in a highly competitive industry. So with the Super Bowl coming up, I couldn’t resist making a comparison between business and sports.
Peyton Manning – Denver’s well-liked quarterback will be heading to the big game for the third time this coming Sunday. Who he is in your organization: The CEO. Experienced and determined, this individual can quickly survey a scene and call an audible. He or she makes everyone else in your organization look better. That’s why wide receivers on Manning’s team always look like stars. What to do with him: Make sure he is involved in the day-to-day so that the rest of your team is learning as much as possible from this veteran.
Russel Wilson – While much quieter than other rookie quarterbacks of his year, Wilson’s performance is starting to reveal his talent on the field and as a leader. Who he is in your organization: Your employee on the fast track. Maybe it’s the new social media employee you’ve just hired, who’s on the cutting edge of marketing. Just like Wilson, this young worker is likely to pay big dividends at a low price. He or she could become your savvy CMO or the CIO who implements just the right new technology at just the right time. What to do with him: Give this individual time with veteran players and keep him or her around by constantly providing new and challenging assignments.
Wes Welker – Welker’s consistently excellent play has made him a top producer on more than one Super Bowl-bound team. He’s a reliable go-to guy on third down. Who he is in your organization: You saw this individual’s value and headhunted him or her. This person might be anywhere in your organization, from sales to engineering, but he or she is crucial in implementing day to day operations. What to do with him: Keep feeding this person. Make sure he or she is consistently involved in the action.
Marshawn Lynch – This hard-charging running back has been known to run over his own teammates to gain yards, but is rather introverted when it comes to talking to the media. Who he is in your organization: The quiet, hardworking project manager. This person meets his or her deadline, no matter what. Sometimes, that means doing the necessary work of pushing coworkers. What to do with him: Give this person the opportunity to lead, and to schedule and to enforce deadlines. Just make sure someone else on the team can help with PR or presentations.
Richard Sherman – Seattle’s talented young cornerback has recently become known for his “passionate” interviews. Who he is in your organization: The outspoken, successful salesperson. This individual may be brash at times, but the results speak for themselves. What to do with him: Give this person incentives; he or she plays best when personally invested. Also, don’t underestimate this individual. Sherman is working on a Masters from Stanford. In your organization, he or she will contribute more than volume.
The Fans – Fans, whether Seattle’s now famous 12th man or the record-breaking noise makers in Kansas City, may have had a greater effect on football this year than any year in the past. Who are they in your organization: Your customers. What to do them: Use them. Tap into your customers’ wants and deliver what they need to propel you to new successes. Be sure you’re always listening to that roar, and remember that customers are the reason you exist.
Whether you have one, two or all of these types in your organization, knowing how to coach them is ultimately what leads to success. No matter what team you have, by combining their talents and thinking ahead you can reach the same kind of scenario I find myself in this Sunday. I love watching both teams play, so for me, Super Bowl Sunday will be a win-win situation.
Tom Bice, Vice President of Product Marketing