Huddle Up: 5 Business Lessons from the NFL

huddle up - 5 business lessons from the nfl

huddle up - 5 business lessons from the nfl

Whether you’re a committed tailgater, an armchair quarterback or simply an aficionado of post-season halftime commercials, it’s likely that you, like over half of Americans, enjoy watching NFL games. And as you gear up for Super Bowl 50, consider what the gridiron can teach you about business.

Draft well

In both football and business, much of your success depends on who’s on your team. It’s essential that you draft well.

When assembling your work team, look for depth and diversity. That means you want some fresh-faced rookies and some seasoned pros. The rookies bring new ideas and energy, while the seasoned athletes bring dependability and leadership.

One of the most exciting things about creating a team is that you never know who will rise to the top and be the next star. Make sure you invest in all your team members, by providing thorough training, mentorship, meaningful feedback and, when needed, correction.

Every position counts

A great pass from the quarterback doesn’t mean much if the receiver doesn’t catch the ball. If the offensive linemen don’t block well, the running back doesn’t stand a chance.

It’s the same when it comes to your business team. Every person plays an important role, and everyone is impacted when one person fails to perform.

It’s vital to ensure that every member of your staff understands how their job impacts the mission and that they are regularly held accountable for their performance. This means celebrating when they do well and letting them know when they need to step it up a notch.

Keep the fans happy

If a football stadium is empty or full of disinterested fans, something is terribly wrong. The NFL is all about energizing fans and creating excitement. Why? Because that’s what brings in the money.

Likewise, in business, customer experience is everything. This means more than just delivering a solid product or service: It means providing seamless customer service, generating enthusiasm, creating a following and responding quickly to negative feedback. When you go after creating a positive customer experience, you are essentially filling your stadium and generating buzz, which quickly multiplies your fan base.

Think beyond the playbook

Peyton Manning is known for making changes at the line of scrimmage. He knows that while a good playbook makes for a good team, great teams must also expect the unexpected. Likewise, in business, a strategic plan only goes so far. It’s essential that you pursue strategic agility—by positioning your business to respond quickly to real-time threats and opportunities.

As the technological revolution continues and the global marketplace expands, unpredictability is a given. If your current organizational structure and decision-making processes are entrenched in “how it’s always been done,” there is a real danger that your business will be fundamentally unresponsive to unexpected external forces.

Don’t take success for granted

This year’s Super Bowl champion can be next year’s loser. In fact only seven teams have ever won the Super Bowl two years in a row. No team has ever won three years straight.

Business, like football, is fickle. Nothing is certain. Even if you are way ahead of your competitors, they can pass you up in an instant if you aren’t vigilant.

The flipside of this is true, as well—you can go from worst to first regardless of how you’ve performed in the past.
Perhaps this is what makes football such a beloved American past time. It reminds all of us that success simply comes down to good leadership, hard work and a little good luck.

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