As happy as I am about Alabama’s victory in the BCS title game last night, this is not an analysis of who made the plays and who didn’t. Notwithstanding LSU’s performance, this is simply my observation on the leadership and teamwork that led to Alabama’s performance in the National Championship game. Perhaps we can apply these in our roles as leaders and team members, both in our careers and in our personal lives.
- The team cared about each other. It was never more apparent than at halftime when Marquis Maze realized that he had played his last down for Alabama after a first half injury and exited the locker room in tears. Even with the business of the championship at hand, his teammates took the time to console him and let him know how much he contributed to the season’s success.
- The team was unselfish. Nobody pointed fingers, nobody made accusations, and nobody showed frustrations with a dropped pass or missed field goal. There were no glory-seekers for selfish ambition. Every player interviewed after the game talked about how the win was a team effort.
- The mission was clear. Their objective was to win the game, not to avenge the loss to LSU in November.
- The focus was on the things that they could control. The offense, defense, and special teams components each had their own objectives, and they knew that their execution on each play would make or break the game. Regardless of what the other team did, the objective was to do their parts right.
- They believed in each other. After the two missed field goals, several players and coaches, including the head coach, went to kicker Jeremy Shelley to reaffirm their confidence in him.
- They kept their composure. Until late in the fourth quarter after the Trent Richardson touchdown, there were very few signs of emotion from the team for plays that went well and plays that did not.
- They took calculated risks. The fake field goal and the blitzes throughout the game are always risky calls, but they took those at a time when they felt they could exploit a weakness in their opposition. They also knew that if the risk didn’t work out as expected that the resulting mistake would have been non-fatal, given the game situation.
- They minimized their mistakes. The Tide played penalty-free football until the last five minutes of the football game, when they were penalized five yards for being offsides. Even at that late point in the game, the head coach was visibly upset with his team for making that mistake. They also committed no turnovers, which was crucial to their success against a team the caliber of LSU.
- The players who don’t normally make the headlines delivered. Unless you follow Alabama football closely, you probably had never heard the names Kevin Norwood, Jerrell Harris, Nick Gentry, and Eddie Lacy before last night. These players stepped up in a big way during the game.
- The preparation was outstanding. Nick Saban and the rest of the coaches obviously did their homework and knew what the team had to do to win the game. They laid out a strategy and conveyed the requirements to the players who executed almost flawlessly.
So what lessons can you apply from this list above to your work and at home? As leaders, do you trust and believe in your team, and do you deliver a clear strategy based on the mission at hand? As team members, where can you step up in an area that you aren’t known to be the go-to guy? What can you do to support your teammates? Can you take risks that you don’t normally take and cut back on some mistakes that you’re prone to making? Just my thoughts, feel free to share with others as you see fit.