Monday, December 3, 2012

Let the Master Answer

I’m going to talk about football, and I don’t know anything about football, so please bear with me. The reason I’ve decided to write about something I know nothing about is that it touches on something I do know about, which is leadership. But first things first.

Today I was listening to 900AM WURD, a radio station here in Philly. Stephanie Renee, who hosts a program called “The Mojo” was talking about the Eagles, remarking on their unremarkable record of eight straight losses. She said that she didn’t understand how head coach Andy Reid still has a job, especially considering that three other people have lost theirs (defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, defensive line coach Jim Washburn, and defensive end Jason Babin). Among other things, she said (and I’m paraphrasing a bit) that the Eagles’ performance was a reflection of the leadership and that she thought it was “offensive” that Andy Reid was still “standing strong” when others had taken a hit.

Now, my ears perked up when she said “offensive,” because that’s a strong wrong. Leadership as a moral issue—that’s interesting. It made me wonder if a Myers-Briggs assessment of Ms. Renee would contain a J. (I’m an ISTJ, that’s what made me think of it.)

Unfortunately, one of the perks of leadership is the ability to blame others for your mistakes and get away with it, or worse, make statements like “I accept full responsibility for _____,” while remaining completely isolated from the effects of ______. It really should be the other way around, with those in leadership feeling more heat when the chips are down, and sometimes that happens but other times it really doesn’t. So, theoretically I agreed with Ms. Renee, but since I don’t know jack about football, I had to call in a few experts for a consult before I could determine whether I agreed with her about Andy Reid in particular.

I asked my brother, “Do you think Andy Reid should be fired?” He said “Oh yeah, but it’s rare to fire a coach mid-season. I think he will be fired at the end of the season.” He continued, “A lot of players blame Reid for stuff. Look up Asante Samuel.”

Okay, so you have a disgruntled former player taking jabs at his former coach. What does that prove? So I asked my Dad, “Do you think Andy Reid should be fired?” He looked at me like I have two heads. “Of course he should be fired! The Eagles haven’t won a game in two months!” When I asked why Reid hadn’t been fired then, he said, “I don’t know. The only thing that makes sense to me is that he and [owner] Jeff Luri are dating.” Okaaaaay. Next I asked, “Why do you think the Eagles are losing?” Dad’s mouth kept opening and closing with no words coming out. “I don’t even know where to start!” he said. “They’re giving these games away! They can be thirteen points ahead, with forty seconds left in the game and still lose, when all they have to do is keep the ball on the ground! Instead, they fumble and drop the ball or do these dumb plays and pass the ball. It’s crazy!” Dumb plays? Hmmm… I was pretty sure a coach is responsible for those.

Finally, I asked my husband. “Do you think Andy Reid should be fired?” “Yeah,” he replied casually. Then he wanted to know, “Why are you asking?” So I told him, and he said, “You don’t know anything about football. That’s like trying to write a paper about the space shuttle when you’ve only ever thrown paper airplanes.” I said, “Thanks, Ed. So… why do you think Andy Reid should be fired?” He replied, “He’s burnt out. He’s making dumb decisions, and he micromanages. Morale is bad. Players are getting injured. It’s poor leadership.”

So, that was it. I was satisfied that Andy Reid should be fired. Ms. Renee, you and I are simpatico.

Nothing brings an organization down like poor leadership. Leadership decides who gets hired, who gets fired, and who gets what assignments. A poor leader can demotivate a high performer who was previously highly motivated and set in motion a domino effect of one bad decision after the other. I’m not a lawyer, but in my profession I’ve had some exposure to legal doctrine, including respondeat superior, or “let the master answer.” You’re the master, Reid. Perhaps it’s time you answered.

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