If you aren’t a college football fan you may not know that Steve Ensminger is Offensive Coordinator and Joe Brady is Passing Game Coordinator of the recently crowned CFP National Champion LSU Tigers. While there are many takeaways from the team’s 2019 campaign that are applicable to business and sales, I believe sales managers, and leaders in general, can especially learn much from Ensminger and Brady.

Contrasting Coaches

Steve Ensminger is 61 years old. He’s been around the block. He’s been fired three times as a coordinator or assistant. He’s been a college, NFL and CFL player. And he’s been up and down the ladder of coaching, from college to high school, back to college as an assistant coach, then to coordinator, back to assistant, and then back again to coordinator.

Contrast Ensminger with Joe Brady who is a ripe 30-year-old. Brady is only seven years removed from playing college football. He was named the passing game coordinator and wide receivers’ coach at LSU for the 2019 season and as such, recently won the Broyles Award given to honor the best assistant coach in college football. Yet, compared to Ensminger experience, he’s still a mere child.

Leadership Skills

Okay, now that you have the back story why should you care?

  • They both checked their egos at the door and worked together to achieve the ultimate prize – an undefeated season and a national championship.
  • The old dog, 61-year-old Ensminger, was open to new things and admitted publicly that he had actually learned from Brady. The baby boomer learned from the millennial.
  • The Tigers beat everyone this year, including 7 top-ten ranked teams, because these two coaches (along with all the others) were able to use their collective skills to focus on what to do next when other teams challenged their game plans.

Applying These Skills

Examine your leadership techniques. Are there areas where you can check your ego at the door? What about learning new things? Where can you try a new and different approach rather than clinging to what you “know” to work? Finally, are you maintaining an atmosphere where the team you lead can focus on what’s next rather than reacting to what happened last?

As in football, sales leaders especially need to be open-minded and quick thinking. The marketplace is changing faster than you may be able to recognize. In order to achieve greatness, you must be willing to adapt, grow and change.

And we live in a far more collaborative time where collective knowledge, experience and focus can help elevate teams significantly higher than one leader can accomplish individually. Winning together doesn’t make the winning any less sweet, as I am sure Steve Ensminger and Joe Brady know all too well.