It’s hard being a lifetime Vikings fan. 4 Super Bowls losses, NFC Championship game losses, multiple last second playoff game losses, and the most untimely losses or injuries to some of the best teams ever played in the NFL.
Bottom line…The Vikings have still NOT WON the big one.
So it pains me to write an article or reference our biggest rival, Green Bay Packers in any way. And yet, I am compelled to do so because of Aaron Charles Rodgers. Not because he has gone on an improbable run that is magnified by the fact that he predicted “running the table” into the playoffs, and doing it in a fashion I have not seen during my 50 years of watching football.
No, that’s not it. I am writing and giving him props because he read Patrick Lencioni’s book, Five Dysfunctions of a Team when they were in 3rd place behind my Vikes, and a dismal 4 wins and 6 losses. His improbable run of 6 regular season wins happened because of his willingness to be vulnerable, lean into trust, have healthy conflict, commit and hold his teammates accountable. His attention to results is unparalleled.
Below is an excerpt from the article, but check out the full ESPN interview by Elizabeth Merrill. http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/18495474/green-bay-packers-qb-aaron-rodgers-saved-packers-season
“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” is a business book. It’s about the problems teams face as they try to “row together.” Rodgers calls it a “phenomenal read for anybody in a leadership position.”
“One [part] that especially talked to me about this team,” Rodgers said, “was communication and conflict and being comfortable having issues with teammates and resolving them and moving forward in a positive way and not having that fear of conflict, which I think alienates and isolates individuals. Being comfortable talking to people and letting them talk to you about issues they have and being constructive and positive in your reaction to that.”
Rodgers’ leadership has been questioned in the past year. When things have gone wrong, there have been suggestions that Rodgers has disconnected himself from the team, sort of like Favre in his final years. Rodgers, the theory went, became so big, so much of an institution, that he couldn’t relate to his peers.
In November, the week of the Redskins game, Bleacher Report published a lengthy profile on the quarterback titled, “Can Aaron Rodgers Be the Type of Leader the Packers Need?” Ex-Packers tight end Jermichael Finley was quoted heavily in the story. He told the website, “I just don’t think he was a natural-born leader. He wasn’t put on Earth to lead.”
The story also said that Rodgers is estranged from his family, is aloof and is extremely rough on his receivers, frequently chewing them out. Finley said he wasn’t a hands-on leader and was more concerned about his stats.
In an interview last week, Rodgers called leadership “a challenge.”
“I enjoy that part of my role,” he said.
Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire
He read this book when they were 4 and 6!!! Do you understand that?!?
And this guy is not a rah-rah, get em’ fired up kind of leader. Hell, he might even be an introvert, I don’t know.
But what I do know is he is proof that the typical kind of leader can be over rated.
And all you need to be is authentic, have a desire to win, and lean in and trust your teammates.
The article went on to say this…
“He kind of took us aside and said, ‘I’m not yelling at you guys just to yell. I’m yelling because I care. I believe in each and every one of you.’ I think it meant a lot to all the guys,'” receiver Jeff Janis said.
“It’s especially hard for younger guys because he’s Aaron Rodgers, and he’s won a Super Bowl. When he said that, it just reminds you that, man, he really is on my side. He doesn’t want to see me fail. He wants me to be the best player I can be. It kind of [took] us aback a little bit. It was just nice to hear.”
Of course, Rodgers can’t relate to all 52 players in his locker room. He is a future Hall of Famer dating a woman who was in “X-Men: Apocalypse.” But he buys jet skis and four-wheelers for his offensive linemen for Christmas, and when his team is in trouble, he somehow knows exactly what to say.
Rodgers did something similar to “run the table” two years ago, after Green Bay started 1-2 and the town was in a panic. He went on his then-weekly radio show, “Tuesdays with Aaron,” and spelled out the word, “R-E-L-A-X.” The Packers won 11 of their next 13 games, earned a first-round bye and beat Dallas in the divisional round before losing at Seattle in the NFC Championship Game.
“I don’t think it gets recognized, the leadership and type of teammate he is,” McCarthy said. “If there’s ever a period of time that exemplifies it, it’s right now.”
General manager Ted Thompson, who has always been one of Rodgers’ biggest supporters, was asked whether Rodgers is playing the best football of his career, and Thompson said he didn’t know.
“I don’t know if I’m smart enough to be able to figure out if he’s different,” he said. “He’s always been that leader since he got here; he’s always been the one wanting to step on the gas and go get it. And he doesn’t have any quit in him. I think the players on offense and even the defensive guys know that if they just give him a chance, we might be able to win a game that maybe we shouldn’t. He has that kind of magic.”
No one questions Rodgers’ leadership now. Not after running after the table, not after Dallas. Before that final throw, Rodgers essentially drew up the play to Cook in the huddle. He was animated, gesturing as he yelled out directions to 10 teammates under the backdrop of 100,000 screaming fans.
“I said everybody kind of run over to the left, and get open — not exactly in those words, but that was basically the gist of it,” Rodgers later told the Dan Le Batard Show.
He was so into it that left tackle David Bakhtiari motioned to his quarterback to speed it up because they were running out of time.
And here, there were no communication issues, no bad vibes. A franchise quarterback was talking, and everyone listened.
Caring enough about the “end result” can push people through their own insecurities on their way to getting what they set out to do. He has haters out there that have played with him. He gets past that and focuses on what he wants to create. Consequently, he’s a winner.
In coaching a business, I experience that with everyone I work with.
I have 4 books that I insist my clients read; Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni , Leadership and Self Deception by The Arbinger Institute, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, and The Power of Ted by David Emerald.
These books set the groundwork and importance of emotional intelligence, being very clear with the vision and what you want.
I want you to know you can have this too. All you have to do is follow your heart. I’m here if you want some support.