By Maria Valdez Haubrich
I grew up with sports on the TV and radio playing constantly in our house. My dad was an avid fan, and now I’m married to a sports nut, so every year I get excited about the Super Bowl. But now that I’m a business owner, I watch the game with an interest in more than just sports. What makes a winning team, how do they get to this level, and what lessons can they teach your business? My husband and I recently talked about the two teams in this year’s Super Bowl, and here are some observations I thought were worth sharing on what sports success can teach you about business success.
- Hands-off management: This year’s contenders, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers, are two successful teams based on their model of consistency. They run their franchises by the basics and with little or no owner interference. They hire experienced people, then the owners stay out of it and let the experts do their jobs. (Insert here grumbling comments about teams like the Dallas Cowboys who has an owner on the field trying to coach which messes everyone up. OK, Cowboy fans, let’s hear your side!)
- Be consistent: The Steelers have had the same ownership since 1933 (the Rooney family http://prod.www.steelers.clubs.nfl.com/history/tradition-of-excellence.html). The family has always run the team by sticking to the basics. They are not the flashiest team, but they have consistently been a strong team and won many championships.
- Give customers ownership: The Packers are owned by the fans—by shareholders. Again, they leave the details to the experts and have a board that makes decisions, not a single owner like Cowboys or Raiders (again I could insert many editorial-type derogatory comments here, but I won’t.).
- Stick to the basics: Both teams stick to the basics, which are building a strong defense, a strong coaching staff and players that believe in the system. They stay away from the hype and extravagant styles of a flashier team.
- There’s no I in Team: Flashy teams want the best players and are willing to spend the most money to get the results, but inevitably the team becomes less a team and more a bunch of players all vying for the spotlight. This strategy can work for a while, but in the long run can spell disaster and a dysfunctional team.
- It’s all about the raving fans: Although both teams spend less money than many other franchises, what they do have is an abundance of loyalty from players and fans. Steelers fans will follow the team all over the country to watch a game, and the Packers, who come from a small tight-knit community, also have die-hard fans who support the team through good times and bad.
What does it all mean? Sometimes, in the face of a wildly changing market and ever fickle fans and consumers, it pays to stick to your core competency and focus on the basics. The Green Bay Packers have won more championships than any other team in the NFL (12, including three Super Bowl titles) and the Steelers have won six out of the seven Super Bowls in which they’ve participated—which is more Super Bowl wins than any other team.
Image by Flickr user Jeramey Jannene (Creative Commons)Google+