I am a Philadelphian. I have lived here my entire life. I must admit I am not a sports fan, but I am definitely a “when it counts” fan. But, I have two boys and a husband who have spent countless days screaming at the television and pacing around the room. Every year the birthday candle wish somehow involved winning Philadelphia sports teams. One of those wishes was, of course, that the Eagles win the Super Bowl. My husband made my sons promise that they would bring their own children, his grandchildren, to his grave when that happened to celebrate with him. Fortunately, my husband is still alive and saw it for himself.
Our city exploded in jubilation at this historic event and came out by the hundreds of thousands to catch a glimpse of this team as their open air buses passed by on the parade route. It was emotional and moving – it was THE WIN – but I actually believe it was so much more. The Eagles have been known as the underdogs, as evidenced by the abundance of people wearing dog masks after the Eagles won the NFC Championship. So, the concepts of resilience, perseverance, hard work, growth mindset and grit as signposts on the road to success are clear. But what are the signposts on the road to greatness? They are actually very different.
Greatness comes from exceptional leadership, team collaboration and culture. This team innately and intuitively understood that and built and cultivated these tools. From the front office to the coaching staff to the players, the themes of respect, value and psychological safety ran throughout. Not a single player said “I did this;” they said “we did this”. That is why Carson Wentz had as much to celebrate as Nick Foles. Each person played their part in getting that team to greatness. They worked together and supported each other every single day. Not one felt they were more important than another. When Foles ran off the field to tell Doug Pederson he wanted to run a trick play, Pederson supported him. That is the epitome of psychological safety and great leadership. Foles knew he operated in a culture where he could try something innovative and risky, and not be chastised by leadership if he failed. Pederson led this team with expectation, but built into that was comradery and communication, and a lot of heart.
This is a case study in how culture and collaboration matter, how feeling equally valued and respected in the workplace is paramount, and how the best leaders make all the difference. Companies who choose to include their entire team roster and change their playbook will soar above their competition.