I know almost all of you watched the Super Bowl on Sunday. Most of you for the game itself, maybe some to watch the commercials, and most to get together with friends and eat awesome greasy food. One thing I bet most of you did not watch is the post-game press conferences for both the winning and losing team. In this case the post-game press conference I want to reference came from the NFL MVP Cam Newton. Cam Newton has been exuberant and charismatic all season long as his team put together a 15-1 regular season and cruised into the Super Bowl game with two more easy wins. The post-game press conference after the Super Bowl showed a much different Cam Newton. He showed up with a hoody on (hood up), instead of his usual flashy garb, and was short with reporters until he eventually cut the conference short and walked off the stage.
Now, I am not trying to judge or tell you anything about Cam Newton the person or athlete, in fact I don’t really care at all, he has zero effect on my life or any of ours. However it is a great example to use when talking about leadership and character. Is this how a leader of a team should act when things go wrong?
This brings me to my point. It’s easy to be a leader when things are going well. It’s easy to show good character when everything is going the way you want it to. True leadership is being there and leading when things aren’t going your way, when everything looks lost. That is when a leader will step up. Character is no different, how a person deals with winning and losing reveals their true character.
All of us can learn from this, whether you are a parent, an athlete, a coach, a supervisor, or a business owner. A true leader shows his best character when times get the toughest. A person of high character will not make excuses for failures and mistakes. A leader is unselfish and does not draw attention to themselves, especially at the expense of others. He/she is respected, and counted on by his teammates.
Cam Newton is a good example, when things are going well; elaborate touchdown dances, taunting and showboating seem to be the norm. When things go bad like the Super Bowl, pouting, blame and walking out on his press conference. Is wearing custom gold cleats with the letters MVP a way of putting your team first, or is it a way of attracting attention and putting yourself above the team. How would Tom Brady react differently, or Derek Jeter? Let’s talk about Peyton Manning for a second. Two years ago his team was on the losing side of the most lopsided game in Super Bowl history (watch his post-game press conference). Flash forward two years…Super Bowl champions. No, he certainly does not have the athletic talent he did two years ago, and may be the worst statistical quarterback in the league, but that right there should tell you a lot about Peyton Manning’s character and his ability to lead. When the game was over and the press wanted to make the game about Peyton Manning’s retirement, he respectfully put the attention back on his teammates and coaches. Peyton Manning the leader, not the quarterback led the Denver Broncos to the victory. If that’s not enough to convince you read this (http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/14738278/peyton-manning-path-super-bowl-goes-practice-squad) or this (http://sports.yahoo.com/news/peyton-manning-leaves-crushing-super-bowl-loss-with-reputation-intact-065205260.html).
Again, my purpose of this is not to bash Cam Newton or praise Peyton Manning. I am writing this to lay out what true leadership and having great character really looks like. It is not always about talent or even being the most liked. It is about being someone your teammates look up to and being that person your team depends on to carry them no matter the highs and lows. Are you a Cam Newton or a Peyton Manning??