I watched in amazement as the Broncos did it again—coming back in the last 3 minutes from 10 points down to the Bears, then winning in overtime. It was their 6th straight win and elevated them to 1st place in the AFC West with 3 games to go. The 4th quarter of Bronco games has been dubbed “Tebow Time” because week after week—when all seems lost—they find a way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, led by their quarterback, Tim Tebow. The key words are “led by,” not “quarterback.” (Tebow is only the 14th ranked quarterback based on the NFL rating system.)
I am not getting on the Tebow as quarterback band wagon. I would rather have Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or a healthy Peyton Manning. But I am on the Tebow as leader band wagon because he has four primary characteristics found in all great leaders.
In his mega-best-seller, Good To Great, Jim Collins identifies what he calls Level 5 leaders as all having two specific character traits: “personal humility…and fierce resolve.” He says, “Level 5 leaders are a study in duality: modest and willful, humble and fearless.”
According to the father of modern management concepts, Peter Drucker, humility is easy to spot by listening to the pronouns used:
“The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I’. And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say ‘I’. They don’t think ‘I’. They think ‘we’; they think ‘team’….‘we’ gets the credit.”
Listen to Tebow. It is always we not me. He credits the coaches, his teammates, his family, friends and God, but never himself. If you hear “I” or “me,” it is something like “I am so proud to be part of this team” or “They make me look better than I am.”
When it comes to fierce resolve, Tebow is a 21st century Winston Churchill:
“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
Winston Chuchill (June 4, 1940, to the British Parliament)
As long as there is even one second on the clock, Tebow is all in, still believing the team can win.
President John Quincy Adam once said:
“If your actions inspire other to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
Something you always hear about Tebow: “He works harder than anyone on the team.” He leads by example. His actions inspire others.
In Leading With The Heart, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski (more than 900 wins!) says he searches for “the heart on the team, because the person who has it can bring out the best in everybody else.” That is the fourth characteristic of Tebow’s leadership. Because of his humility, fierce resolve and example, the rest of the team rises and plays better—even the defense. Since Tebow became the starting QB in game six, the Bronco defense—in terms of points allowed—is playing as the 11th best defense in the league. Before Tebow, they were 30th. The offense is giving up just one turnover per game instead of the 2½ per game in the first five games. No wonder they have gone from 1-4 to 8-5!
I don’t know if Tim Tebow will ever silence his critics or win a Super Bowl in football. I do believe he will win a Super Bowl in life. He will accomplish something big and important because he is a Level 5 leader with humility and fierce resolve. He leads by example and his heart elevates everyone on his team. Those four things will work in football, business, church, or politics.
The Broncos play New England and Brady this Sunday. I suspect the Patriots will win. But this I know, until the clock hits 00:00, the Broncos will think they can win. Don’t change channels too soon, you may miss something exciting.
© Copyright 2011 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company
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"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
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