Sports Movies & What They Can Teach Us About Leadership

I love sports movies. This is a well-known fact in my house, so when I recommend a movie to watch chances are good that it is a sports movie. Yesterday I watched Draft Day with Kevin Costner. It was an okay movie, not overwhelmingly great like Hoosiers but left me wondering how many General Managers or Coaches would have done what Costner did; which was not take the number one draft pick all-star Quarterback because he lacked integrity. How important is integrity to the game? To your team? To how your playoff chances will stack up? To your end result? To your player motivation?
I think I like sports movies because they usually have two key elements that I’m a huge fan of; one is an underdog and the other is leadership. I like underdogs because they have to fight the norm, the expected and the masses. I like leadership because it’s challenging and it calls upon your senses both common and developed. In both of these elements it is always a question of whether or not the human spirit will prevail. And I am a believer, I am a believer in the human spirit, human resiliency and human-ness. I believe we are more capable than we know.
In Draft Day, Costner ends up rewarding players with strong integrity. He comes to realize that his ability to see the game from a different view point is actually what will build him a stronger team. Costner becomes conscious of how his true leadership convictions are built on what he knows to be true of what a team needs beyond skill. Costner risks his own well-being for the betterment of the team.  Costner is a leader.
So, does integrity win in your office? Does your team’s integrity matter more than their skill level or their ability to bring in profit? Is your focus on whether or not the other team members like them, would attend their birthday party or want to eat lunch with them or is all your attention on the bottom line? And if it is, what are you missing?
I don’t know if you can teach integrity directly, you would need to have influence to impart that kind of teaching. I think it is something that forms from our foundational appreciation of people and the effort people put in, more so the effort we are willing to put in to do the right thing or to exemplify our own morals and ethics – our effort to be an example of good even when no one is watching.
I have seen it over and over again how Managers, Leaders, Business Owners are so focused on the bottom line and skill development that they are blind to good people leaving their flock. And what if that good person is the exact example your team needs to do even better with your bottom line? What if a high level of integrity among your entire team is what will actually take you to the next profit level?
Integrity is a constant effort, you can encourage it in your team and your home if you have the conviction of your own integrity to take the heat, the negative comments, the anger, the head shaking and I believe, the inevitable win you will see from your team. I believe that integrity is profitable.
Winning at life is so much more than a bottom line. So what are you going to do? Stack your team with skill or build your team with talent, perspective and integrity. Are you taking the number one draft pick or are you weighing your options and looking at the quarterback who is valuable in more ways than a throwing arm?

Long live sports movies and the lessons they teach us.
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