I recently watched a football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots. The final score—Colts 35, Patriots 34. This game, like all sporting events, contained many elements of leadership. Let’s review some I observed.

Leaders organize before undertaking a task. Each team spent hundreds of hours preparing for the contest, seeking to leave nothing to chance. It’s called making a plan. The more detailed your organization of a task, the greater the potential for success. Plan your day, week, month, year—your life.

Leaders make adjustments depending on circumstance. Each time the quarterbacks were off the field, they reviewed still pictures of the other team’s defenses, seeking to find ways to make slight changes in order to increase their offensive success potential. Likewise, in life, and in our work activities, we must review our actions and the results we are getting every day. These minor course corrections keep us moving forward towards our desired destination and raise the odds for successfully reaching that destination.

Leaders are not afraid to take a risk. In the final two minutes of the game, the Patriot’s coach made a decision to go for the first down on their own 30 yard line rather than punt the ball. It was a high risk decision that backfired. The Patriot’s did not make the necessary two yards to maintain possession of the ball. Very quickly, the Colts scored and took the lead. I don’t think the Patriot’s coach is a dumb guy. He assessed the situation based upon all the game data and felt his team could make the necessary yardage. He was not afraid to take a high risk. Can we be as courageous and risk failure or do we always play it safe and dramatically reduce our potential to improve?

Leaders are not afraid to face failure. Yes, the Patriot’s lost the game on what many will characterize as a “dumb decision” by their coach. I choose to say it was a gamble that didn’t pay off and not question the level of competence of the coach. He has proved he is a very good coach. But last night, he also proved that he was not afraid to face failure. When we are open to taking risks, we are also willing to accept the consequences of failure. Sometimes they are huge but more than not, failure is not final.

Leaders have confidence in their abilities. It took a great deal of confidence for the Patriot’s coach to make that 4th down choice. People will follow a leader that has knowledge and confidence in their ability to make sound decisions. We should look inwardly and raise a correct assessment of our abilities and self-confidence. When preparation is properly positioned, confidence can be created. If one wishes to lead, self-confidence is a critical component of their character. How’s your confidence level?

Leaders sense the entire playing field. As I watched each QB run their offense, it was very obvious that they were constantly assessing the entire playing field, making adjustments, and running the best offensive play possible. As we seek to grow our success potential, we need a strong sense of our environment, the field in which we work, and the trends occurring in the business world. By grasping these bits of information, we open the door to greater opportunities.

Leaders get their team members working together. Success in sports demands teamwork. In football games, twenty-two people must work together to make the offense and defense work. If everyone carries out their respective duties on each play, the opponent is stopped. Likewise, in your work environment, if everyone accepts and carries out their job requirements, the organization prospers. Imagine what power your entire organization can have if teamwork, cooperation, and individual responsibility work at the maximum level possible?

Leaders seek input from others on the team. Players on the sideline conferred with coaches and teammates seeking a way to increase their performance. Take advantage of the abilities every employee working for or with you bring to the workplace. Leaders don’t shy away from ideas generated by others. They understand they cannot function in isolation and neglect the potentially powerful input possible from others.

Leaders respect the competition. It was very obvious the Colts and Patriots have a great deal of respect for each other. Each team knew their opponent was going to be prepared and ready to work hard for the win. It’s the same with your competition. They want to win as badly as you do. So, don’t knock the competition, explain the difference. In this way, we show respect without belittling. This position actually raises our own respect level from our clients and/or customers.

Leaders evaluate their performance. You can bet the Patriot’s will break down and examine every play from Sunday’s game. Once reviewed, they will seek to avoid a repeat of the same failures next week. Likewise, we must constantly evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of our individual and organizational performance. Then, we must surface the necessary courage to make changes.

Author's Bio: 

Billy Arcement, MEd—The Leadership Strategist, is a professional speaker / consultant / author and President of The Results Group. For questions about this article, call him at 225-677-9426 or email barcement@eatel.net. Learn more about his services at www.SearchingForSuccess.com. © 2009 The Results Group.