Byron's Babbles

Playing To Strengths

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, NFL, Super Bowl by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on January 8, 2023

I have always been a fan of being a strengths finder. The best leaders find ways to play to the strengths of those they serve. My son and I watched the Jacksonville Jaguars win the NFL’s AFC South last evening. Their coach, Doug Pederson, is a strengths finding leader and someone I have studied and admired. First and foremost, he is genuine person who players have zero issues building relationships with – the most important leadership trait. Pederson can also relate and connect with professional athletes because of being one. Additionally, he has a credibility factor because of the success he has had as both a player and coach. Players call him “genuine.” Being genuine and authentic is about as good as it gets!

What has always impressed me is how Pederson builds a game plan around strengths and talent, not the other way around. For example he had Carson Wentz playing at an MVP level in just his second season with the Philadelphia Eagles. Then when Wentz was injured, in came Nick Foles, and the rest is history. Pederson made the necessary changes to play to Foles’ strengths and the Eagles won the Super Bowl. He found what Nick Foles did best and changed everything to compliment that. He has now done the same at the Jacksonville Jaguars for Trevor Lawrence. Changing everything to compliment what your quarterback does best and the talent around him – genius. Great leaders don’t try to fit everyone into their own prescribed way doing things; they make adjustments to compliment the strengths of the talented people they serve. Playing to the strengths of those you serve – great leadership!


Lift Every Voice

Posted in Equity, Excellance, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, NFL, Super Bowl LV by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on February 7, 2021
Coach Bruce Arians

Happy Super Bowl Sunday. As I settled in for Super Bowl LV. I loved this statement by Bruce Arians, Head Coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when being interviewed by Bill Cowher for the Super Bowl Today Show: “If you are going to make me better, I am going to listen to you.” Having just gotten home this morning from facilitating a bunch of leadership development this past week and weekend, I was reflecting on how much time we had spent discussing that people will follow you because they want to (relationship) and people will follow you because you get results (production). Coach Arians was making this comment in response to continued praise for giving minority coaches opportunities. Additionally, the Buccaneers are the first NFL team to have two female coaches on staff in a Super Bowl. He reflected on his own experience being overlooked that made him want to help others get recognized. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the only team in the NFL with all Black coordinators.

In a great story by ESPN Staff Writer, Jenna Laine (she has awesome journalistic talent, by the way), Coach Arians said “A player is gonna ask the coach, ‘How are you gonna make me better?'” “He doesn’t really care if the answer comes from a male or female, Black, white, brown, yellow, who — just ‘help me be better,’ Arians said. “The best teachers I had were all different races, all different ethnic groups, male and female. If you can teach, you can coach.” It impressed me that Arians deflected a little of the praise saying, “That was not by design. Those are the best coaches I know.” Here’s the deal, great leaders recognize potential and then act on that by providing opportunities. It’s the most important thing we do as leaders.

Another thing Coach Arians said to Laine that really stuck with me was “To hear voices in a staff meeting that aren’t the same, don’t look alike, but they all have input — you get better output.” This is so true! It’s why in education we need to continue to work extremely hard in diversifying our teaching staffs. As we continue to work for excellence and equity, we must continue to tap the shoulders of ALL with potential – that’s what great leaders do.