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3 Leadership Lessons From Super Bowl 2015

Up front know that I am a diehard Seattle Seahawks fan. And do note that I'm not interested in debating football games or who coached better than whom.

One of the main reasons I'm such a Seahawks fan is the ethic - both in work and community - that Pete Carroll and his team embody.

Yes, we were disappointed with the last minute win by the Patriots. Yes, we would have liked to have seen a different outcome. But through all of that, I was struck by the leadership lessons that came out of not just this game, but the whole season:

1. Celebrate individual accomplishments, take the responsibilities for failures

One of the best leadership philosophies I know is one I've practiced throughout my management career: if your team member does something great, celebrate it and give them the credit. If the team experiences a failure - it's your responsibility.

Time and again, Pete Carroll celebrates his players. When they make a great play, he's jumping up and down on the sidelines hooping and hollering like a teenager. He empowers his players to do well by always being there to cheer them on.

Shortly after the loss to the Patriots, Quarterback Russell Wilson said Carroll took the blame for the bad call that lost the game: "The message from coach Carroll was he took the blame for it," Wilson said.

A good leader celebrates the individual efforts of the team and take responsibility for failure.

2. Always compete

Pete Carroll, when asked about what the Super Bowl was all about for him, said simply: "competition."

His "Competition Wednesday" practices are legend among Seahawks fans. He runs full on practices that, according to one player, feel like you've played two full games by the time you're done.

Carroll believes in giving your all, all the time. Showing up and doing what is necessary to compete.

He instills this belief in his players by doing this himself. Always showing up. Always competing. If you watched his Facebook feed during the season over the last several months you've seen it time and time again.

3. Respect your competition, LOVE your fans

Pete Carroll always talks about other coaches - and teams - with respect. I have never heard spiteful words or sarcastic jabs coming from him. He respects the game, loves the people who play it and it shows.

But more importantly he LOVES his "12s" - the diehard fans around the country who week in and week out cheer the team on.

The leadership lessons here? Respect your competition (while never underestimating them).

ALWAYS remember your customers (fans) who are the ones that keep you in business. Acknowledge them, celebrate their enthusiasm for your business, be there for them and let them know you appreciate what they are doing for you and your team.

So, while it wasn't the outcome I was hoping for, it was a great game - and a great example of leadership at its best. Pete Carroll will always be a leader I admire - and continue to learn from - for may years to come.


Chuck Hester is the Chief Communications Officer for Big Think Innovation, a business architect consultancy that helps companies plan, grow and build their futures. He is also a LinkedIn trainer and speaker, helping businesses get the most out of LinkedIn, while teaching them how to communicate effectively. Contact him directly at

Need help with LinkedIn? Feel free to message Chuck and ask about one-on-one and group LinkedIn Executive Training.


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