If I can’t be at the victory parade, then gosh darn it, I will write a leadership post about the Eagles! As a lover of all things leadership, and a life long Eagles fan, you can imagine my excitement when I found a play that exemplified all that I love about good leadership coupled with an epic play from the Eagles offense in their Super Bowl win. The ‘Philly Special’ is not just special because of the 6 points it put on the board for the Eagles, it also is an excellent example of a CORE component every leader MUST have to be successful. And in case you are not a die hard Eagles fan like me, there is a video of this epic play embedded above. 😉
The Stakes Could Not Have Been Higher…
There are no higher stakes in the NFL than the Super Bowl. In all of sports, there is probably only a handful of events that even come close to the high stakes of the Super Bowl (Olympics, World Cup, World Series..). For the Philadelphia Eagles, you can crank up the stakes even higher. The last time Philadelphia won a Super Bowl was in 1960. Nineteen FREAKING sixty! They’re playing as the underdog, with a back up quarterback against a dynasty team with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time (it hurt to type that, but you can make the case it’s true..I guess..). I mean the pressure surrounding that game had to be so high. They did a great job of acting cool, but we know deep down, that had to be high pressure and high stress. I say this because pressure and stress are typically kryptonite for leaders. When the pressure is on, leaders will often revert back to whatever is comfortable and safe. Rarely do they go against the status quo in a high pressure situation. Not Doug Pederson. Not Nick Foles. They ate pressure for breakfast last Sunday. The beginning of this clip shows Nick Foles call the “Philly Special” play to Coach Pederson. Coach thinks about it for a second, and agrees to call the play. That is the epitome of leadership because that takes an immense amount of trust.
Trust: This Is Why The Eagles Won The Super Bowl
Coach Pederson trusts Nick Foles to run a play that they literally drafted 3 weeks before, and ONLY practiced THREE times before doing it in the Super Bowl. Not only that, but it was on FOURTH AND ONE. FOURTH AND ONE?!?! That is some serious trust. This is just one example of the trust that Coach Pederson had in his team. After just about everyone (sheepishly I will include myself in this group) counted this team out after Wentz went down with a torn ACL, Pederson trusted his back up quarterback to make it happen. When he showed trust in Foles, he modeled that for the rest of his teams and us fans. We all followed his lead and put our faith in Foles.
Without trust, Pederson sulks about Wentz, and Foles is not empowered. Without trust, Foles doesn’t propose the ‘Philly Special.’ Without trust, Pederson doesn’t agree to a trick play on fourth and one. Without trust, the offense overthinks it and botches the pass. Trust gets the Eagles to the Super Bowl, and trust is why the Eagles brought Philadelphia a Super Bowl win we all so desperately wanted. I am not discounting the talent and skill on that team. However, I have seen a lot of teams (both on and off the field) have the best talent and skills, and still screw it up. That’s because you can have all the skills in the world but if you don’t have trust in each other, you have nothing.
What Leaders Can Learn From the Philly Special
Trust is paramount. No matter if you work in an office building, football stadium, school, or a factory, a leader must create trust with their team. Many times I see leaders focus on all the wrong things like putting processes in place and micro managing on every detail of an initiative or a deliverable. When in reality, the first thing you should be worried about is developing trust between you and those you lead. When you have trust, you can push boundaries and you can empower your people to do things they never thought possible.