What the Cam Newton Controversy Can Teach Us
What the Cam Newton Controversy Can Teach You
Just in case you weren't one of the 119 million Americans who watched the Super Bowl or you missed all of the media coverage chronicling the mini temper tantrum Carolina Panther's star QB , Cam Newton showed that collection of Americans, we will take this time to explore what we can take from his mini meltdown at the press conference following the game. I'm here not to condemn his attitude, that's already been done to death, but to highlight what we in the business community can learn from it.
Not too many people would argue with you if you said that Cam Newton was talented. After all, he did just lead his team to the Super Bowl, losing only one game all season while winning the NFL's Most Valuable Player award. He has a strong arm, fast legs and a large, athletic body. In college, he won big as well, leading Auburn to a championship and winning a Heisman Trophy. That history shows his talent and his ability on the field. But does that rare level of talent lend itself to being a leader as well?
Talent, on the football field or in the business field does not necessarily translate to quality leadership. After all, individuals who strive in one area have developed this talent through practice and repetition, much of which is done in solitude. This lifestyle can give you a great jump shot, even a flawless business savvy, or in this case, help you read a defense or throw a pass. What it doesn't prepare you for is putting yourself in the position of others who are looking to you to lead. Leadership is about the ability to see things from many perspectives, and then choose a path from those perspectives to travel. That choice is key. It needs to represent you, your staff and your company in the best possible light at all times. People watching you should not only want to be around you or follow you, they should want to emulate you, as well. It is a different skill set. One that has value and far reaching influence.
Part of that influence that reaches people stems from accountability in turbulent times. Accepting responsibility for those turbulent times, publicly, whether in a conference room or a locker room press conference, shows courage and leadership. True leaders do not deflect. Deflection shows weakness in ego. A fragile sense of self. A truly confident leader, secure in his path, his talent and his team, has no need for deflection. A failure or shortcoming is only more data to be added to their equation, it is not an indictment of their abilities. They know this and those around them do as well. Questions are not accusations, they just lead to information. Don't hide from questions, not from reporters, clients, bosses or shareholders, without those questions, and the subsequent answers, your data will always be incomplete and your perspective will be blocked. After all, the best leaders continually ask the hardest questions to themselves.
Now deflection shows weakness of ego, but that ego can also be a strength. That ego is what gives them the drive to learn the skills needed to excel on the field or the sales call. That drive, if directed properly, can be directed to learn humility and leadership. Someone with the drive of a Cam Newton, to succeed on the field, can steer his ego for the betterment of all who follow him. The question is, does he have the courage to keep putting in that effort? In the end, only he will know, but if you are his boss you need to be concerned and step up yourself. Decide if talent is enough or do you invest in making him a leader. There is a conversation managers have :
Q: "What if we invest in our people and they leave?"
A: "What if we don't and they stay?".
You hired for talent, now you need to invest in making them a leader. Cam has the talent, he has a boss who is investing in him, now we get to see how that investment pays off.