super bowl

Win or Lose, Emotional Intelligence Matters

After the Super Bowl on Sunday night, the quarterbacks from each team were bombarded by the media with questions. For Peyton Manning, it was all about whether he would cap his career on a high note. For Cam Newton, the questions reflected his fresh defeat. Whether you're a rookie like Newton, or a seasoned veteran like Manning, it is important to think through how we will respond emotionally whether we win or lose. Let's look a little closer at both players and think through what we can learn from them.


Let's Start with Manning

After his win, we heard Manning repeat again and again what he planned to do, which did not involve releasing any clues of retirement. He gave a lot of credit to Coach Tony Dungy who encouraged him not to make any emotional decisions. Note that this advice came before a Super Bowl victory, because either outcome of the game would affect Manning's emotional decisions in the moment.

In the midst of the rush, you risk saying or doing something that you wouldn't when your emotional state is leveled and you are thinking clearly. In Manning's case, he could be feeling pretty good about his victory and desire to do it again. It's important for him to level emotion and take on a posture of humility in the weeks to come.

Now, Newton

I can't help but sympathize with Newton in some ways. It's early in his career and he had a great run this season. Stats and predictions for a victory pointed his way, yet just as he said in his brief interview after the game, “They just played better than us.” From his body language (hood up, eyes down) and his short answers, it was obvious that Newton was emotionally defeated.

No, he probably shouldn't have walked out of his interview, however, I think his emotional response could have been worse. Perhaps for Newton, at this point in his life and early in his career, the best thing he could do to avoid an emotional reaction was to just walk away. This was his immediate reaction. How he lets this loss affect him and his leadership moving forward will be crucial.

What this Means To You as a Leader

Sometimes things are going to go your way and you will win. The question becomes, how are you going to display your victory?

One of they key characteristics that attracts followers to a leader is humility. Winning with grace is a very attractive leadership attribute.

Humility can be disregarded at times because it is misrepresented as lacking toughness and grit. However, in an article in the Military Review, authors Joseph Doty and Dan Gerdes say this is not the case. They describe a humble leader as lacking arrogance, not aggressiveness. Humility can even carry a spiritual tone, since the leaders activities are seen as free of ego and self-aggrandizement. Peyton Manning may have the title of 2x Super Bowl Champion and leader of all-time passing yards, however, his posture of humility over the years is what attracted his fans and followers.

And then there are times when things are not going to go your way and you are going to lose. The question then becomes, how are you going to show grace in defeat?

Nobody likes a sore loser. Just look at what happened to Donald Trump in New Hampshire when he displayed poor character as he spoke about his loss in Iowa last week. His poll numbers started to drop, so much so that the Wall Street Journal says he must change his message to avoid another primary disaster.

The question is not if you are going to have a setback in life. The real question is when are you going to have a setback in life, and how do you respond when you do?

In the emotional intelligence realm, the trait that is needed by leaders is called resiliency. Leaders need to have an ability to recover, to get back to their original form when things do not go their way.

It will be interesting to see how Cam Newton recovers from losing the Super Bowl and how he'll channel this experience to shape his leadership for the next season.

What can you do?

  1. Picture yourself in the moment after you succeeded and then again as if you failed. How would you hope you'd react in either circumstance? How do you plan to respond? Do you know yourself well enough to know when you are in control or when you just need to walk away? Think about these things.
  2. Ask trusted mentors or coaches for insight. They will consider the situation in a way you may not have based on their past experiences. They will also be honest about how you may react, because they know you well. Make sure you really listen to them and consider what they share.
  3. Write out your plan and immediate response whether you win or lose. Think through your stance and posture as well. Stick to this script. This way, you don't risk saying or doing anything you didn't mean.


Identify the next big moment in your career or in your life. Think about the questions above and write out a plan of action whether you win or lose. We'd love to hear from you, so don't forget to comment below.

What You Can Learn from NFL Coaches to Get to the Superbowl in Your Career

This week I am happy to share this blog space with Gretchen Holcomb. Gretchen is spending a few months fine-tuning some things in our organization before going off to Spain for a year to teach English as a second language. I hope you enjoy her perspective on coaching and leadership.


February is an exciting month for football fans across the nation as we come to the pinnacle of the NFL season, the Superbowl.

This Sunday night, the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers will face off to determine who will be the Superbowl 50 Champion!

Although it is an exciting time for the players on the field, I can't help but think what it must be like for the coaches who saw the big picture, planned the strategy that got them this far, and wonder how they might be handling the pressure. Whether or not you are fan of either of these teams, I believe we can learn a lot from coaches Ron Rivera and Gary Kubiak that we can apply to our own playing field.

They Know Who they Are

Rivera and Kubiak lead with their strengths, because they know what their strengths are. They've identified their values and implemented them on and off the field. They leverage their self-awareness in order to lead their team and care for themselves. By understanding what they need to do in order to handle stress and pressure, they are able to manage and channel them so that their performance does not suffer.

Knowing themselves gives them the endurance to perform well throughout the entire season. In fact, in Rivera's bio on the Panthers' website, he recognizes the influence of his family background as a part of who he is: “Coming from a military background, there's a lot of discipline, a lot of structure. That's how I feel when I coach.”

What About You?

Do you know your strengths and weaknesses?

Are you extroverted or introverted? How do you manage stress when under pressure? Do you handle work conflicts differently than conflicts at home? If you are interested in learning more about yourself, check out last Monday's blog when we discuss the latest personality assessment and how you can take it.

They Know Their Game

This may seem like an obvious point. If Rivera and Kubiak are football coaches, then they better know the game. They have to know the game so well, in fact, that they are able to create strategies, teach their players, and make quick judgment calls in the midst of all the action. Both coaches have years of experience as successful players. Most likely, they mastered their game as players and enjoyed leading their teammates, which led them to coach. However, coaching is different than playing. To do this well, they had to pay attention to all the ins and outs of the game; not just what the quarterback is supposed to do, or the basic rules. It takes time to study, observe, and listen. Most importantly it takes having a great coach to become a great coach, just like these head coaches had when they were once players. In fact, I would bet they still have coaches or advisers helping them in their current position.

What about You?

What's your “game” and how well do you know it?

How has it changed in the last 10 years, and how could it change in the next five? What do you need to study to make your game your expertise? When you look around, what do you observe on the field and in the game? Who do you need to listen to? Who can coach you?

They know Their Plan and Work It

Only when these coaches know themselves, the game, and their team are they ready to get to work. It is up to the coaches to communicate their plan, prepare the players, and motivate the team. You see, the players are their resources, and it is the responsibility of the coach to help them get into game-ready shape, building them physically and mentally so they are able to perform in such a way that carries out the plan and strategy the coaches have devised. Yes, it's important for them to be in physical shape to play each game, but what is going to motivate the players to stay engaged for the entire season? The end goal is to win the Superbowl, but why does that really matter? It is up to the coaches to communicate this "why", and to communicate it often, so that the players stay focused and on track.

What about You?

What is the goal of what you want to accomplish and why? What resources are available to and how are you shaping them so they work to your advantage?

They Celebrate

We know what this looks like: balloons, streamers, fireworks, and someone announcing that they are going to Disney World! What would it look like if after the Superbowl these celebrations didn't happen? What if the players just walked off the field, cleaned out their lockers, and went home?

That wouldn't feel very good to the players, coaches, or the fans. They should feel excited, proud, and motivated by their accomplishments! The celebration is important, even when reaching milestones.

On the Denver Bronco's website a few weeks ago I saw that they hosted a Playoffs Rally to celebrate their step toward the Superbowl with their fans. I can only imagine how exciting and motivating that is for the players. Just a little taste of victory encourages you to press forward towards the ultimate victory.

What about You?

Where are the milestones in your plan? How will you celebrate when you reach those milestones in such a way that it pushes you closer to your end goal? What will it look like for you to celebrate your end goal? Plan those celebrations now to keep you motivated and in the game.


Consider taking a personality assessment like Strengths Finder, MBTI, EQi 2.0, or Pearman Personality Integrator. If you are not sure where to start, contact me and we can help you decide which assessment would be best for you.

Identify one way to learn your game. Is there a new book in your field you could read? Is there an expert in your field you could talk to? Even better, could you listen to your followers or clients, gather data about their observations, and learn from them?

Write out your plans for this month. Be sure to include how you will celebrate when you accomplish your goals. Finally, decide what action step you will take this week and tell us that step in the comments below.