No, the title to this piece is not a misprint. It’s not about George Patton, rather it is about how to inspire staff and employees through the power of dogged personal example. Let’s look at Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who after 14 seasons as the driving force behind the Indianapolis Colts was cut from the roster because of serious neck injuries.
Manning sat out the entire 2011 season, and no one would have been surprised if he would have hung up his shoes. His physical problems were a pinched nerve and a herniated disc, which led to four surgeries -- including a spinal fusion.
According to Ben Teitelbaum, a writer for the Daily Beast:
“When he signed with Denver in March 2012, he admitted he had to ‘relearn’ how to throw and said his first attempt ‘nose-dived after about five yards.’ Now it’s clear that he relearned pretty good.”Manning led the Broncos to a number-one seed in the 2012 playoffs. After a disappointing loss in overtime before the home crowd, Manning’s astonishing performance during the 2013 season -- a record-setting 55 touchdown passes and nearly 5,500 yards -- led his team to Super Bowl 48.
Quarterbacking a professional football team is the quintessential leadership challenge. The ultimate in team sports, football combines brute strength, athleticism and finesse combining brains and brawn against determined opponents, who have thoroughly studied each other’s tactics. Quarterbacks, like presidents, typically get only half the credit but shoulder all the blame when the team loses.
You don’t have to be a Broncos fan to recognize the determination and absolutely inspirational leadership Peyton Manning has demonstrated both on and off the field. At the line of scrimmage, Manning is human counterpart of an intelligence-gathering satellite as he adjusts his players to defensive threats or openings. On the sidelines he excels in crisis management and adjustment to the flow of the game in a way that would make a Wall Street day trader jealous.
Manning’s best leadership attribute is a humility and self-effacement that is neither contrived nor phony. He knows that, while he is the leader, he must rely on ten others to keep those 300-pound defenders from planting his face in the turf as well as those receivers to be where his bullet passes arrive right before the pocket collapses.
Knowing all that, Manning gives credit to his teammates who do well, but is unrelenting in chastising anyone who misses an assignment that causes a broken play. In one way, at least, Peyton is an adherent to one of George Patton’s Principles: “Punishment for mistakes must be immediate…A dead man does not have any ego.” (The “dead man” here is a metaphor for a sacked quarterback or a lost game.)
So when it comes to inspiring the best performance from your staff and employees, think about this: It’s important to “talk the talk” after (or, at the very least. while) you “walk the walk.” Letting your work and dedication speak for itself and giving credit to others are what winning is all about.