I became a fan of Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers recently. Not for what he did during his game-time 30 minutes with a football in his hand, admirable as it was, but for what he did and said with a microphone in his face in the televised press conference following his team’s win over the Detroit Lions.
In the interview, Rodgers was effusive in praising his team, with a heavy “We : I Ratio” describing their accomplishments, giving named shout-outs to at least thirteen individual teammates, and more expressions of affirmation than I could count. Rodgers wasn’t just throwing handfuls of gold stars into the locker room so everybody could have one, though. His comments about the behaviors being commended were as well targeted as his game-time passes.
Granted, it’s a little easier to find good things when you’ve just thrown four balls for touchdowns and gotten a “W” on the scoreboard, and yes, this is the same Rodgers who climbed on his teammates for a lack of effort just a few weeks ago. Speaking of that same episode in the presser, Rodgers was quick to acknowledge that, “I needed to play better” (too). Indeed, that was about the only place during the conference where he called his own number first.
As leaders, we must realize that we’re playing at a faster pace than ever, with teammates who, according to employee engagement survey scores, tend to be more dispirited and distracted. Yet, some things remain constant, one of which is that most people still like to “hear their number called”, and they remember (and work harder for) the person who did it.
To wit, whether playing in a domed stadium or in a more pedestrian workspace, good leaders make it a point to share credit quickly and meaningfully, while taking adult-sized doses of responsibility when things are a bit more somber. It’s not hard. This is just one of those areas where being successful means subordinating our immediate self interest for the greater good, and where good leaders distinguish themselves.