Getting an MBA will teach you a lot of important things about management and leadership, but it’s important to balance out the lessons you take from academics with lessons from the good old School of Hard Knocks. I can think of very few people (other than my grandfather) who might be more qualified to teach at that school than Bill Parcells, legendary football coach and most recently coach of America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys.
The other night in the Monday Night Football pregame Ed Werder brought up the fact that Bill had given Tony Romo (current Cowboys’ quarterback and former Parcells player) 11 lessons on leadership that Tony still has posted in his locker. In a rare glimpse behind the curtain, Bill stared straight into the camera and broke all those lessons down:
- Ignore other opinions. Outsiders (spouses, friends, media) don’t know what’s happening here.
- Clowns can’t run a huddle.
- Fat quarterbacks can’t avoid the rush. Train.
- Know the job cold. Study.
- Know your own players.
- Be the same guy every day.
- Throwing the ball away is a good play. (Avoid disastrous turnovers and other mistakes.)
- Learn to manage the game. Never take your eye off the clock.
- Get your team in the end zone. (Individual statistics don’t matter.)
- Don’t panic. Our ship can’t have a panic button.
- Don’t be a celebrity quarterback. We need battlefield commanders.
These are as applicable to the Fortune 500 as they are to the football field. I think my favorite is “clowns can’t run a huddle,” though they are all great.
After Bill had finished, all Chris Berman could say was “wow.” And the audience knew for just a minute what it would be like to be coached by one of the greats.