11 Tips On Leading During A Time Of Crisis From Penn State Head Coach Bill O’Brien
â€œSooner or later comes a crisis in our affairs, and how we meet it determines our future happiness and success. Since the beginning of time, every form of life has been called upon to meet such crisis.â€ – Robert Collier
Penn State head football coach Bill O’Brien must appreciateÂ Collier’s wordsÂ becauseÂ no leader inÂ sports isÂ facing a greater crisis than he is.Â Â As you are probably aware, the NCAA handed down severe penaltiesÂ to the Nittany Lion program this week because of, let’s just say, lack of institutional control.
This morningÂ Coach O’Brien appeared on Atlanta’s 790 The ZoneÂ sports talk radio program.Â He gave some incredible insightsÂ as toÂ how he is leading the program into the futureÂ despiteÂ less thanÂ ideal circumstances.
I truly do not feel theÂ Penn StateÂ program has much opportunity forÂ success moving forward but I greatly admire the approach O’Brien is taking.Â The followingÂ are his areas ofÂ focus asÂ heÂ attempts to establish a winning culture.Â It is something all leaders can learn from.Â You canÂ hearÂ his entire interview by clicking here.
- Instill Pride – Coach O’Brien starts with a focus onÂ self-leadership.Â Â He takes pride in the fulfillment ofÂ his assignment.Â Â ”The biggest thing I have is the pride in working with these guys.”
- StayÂ Positive – Coach O’Brien is reminding his team and future recruits that “this is a special place.Â This where kids can come and play in front of 108,000 fansÂ on TV.”
- Be Resilient – When leading during a crisis, leaders are not afforded the opportunity to feel sorry for themselves.Â “We got right up off the ground and started working with our players to field a very competitive 2012 team.”
- Continually Communicate – “We have open lines of communication with our players.Â Our players have a lot of faith in us and weÂ have a lot of faith in our players.Â But they’re going through a lot right now.”
- Define Reality – O’Brien is keenly aware that other schools are actively recruiting his current players. “It’s NFL free agency without the rules.”
- Model CommitmentÂ - O’Brien said, “The way I was brought up in coaching is that you make a commitment…I made a commitment to Penn State and most importantly, I’ve made a commitment to the 2012 team.Â A lot of people have asked me right of the batÂ if I’m staying.Â Of course, I’m staying.”
- CreativityÂ - John F. Kennedy once said, “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters-one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.â€Â O’Brien is embracing this principle.Â “I understand the 65-man scholarship (instead of 85).Â There’s creative ways to bring kids in here.”
- Focus On The Future – Leaders always point to a brighter tomorrow.Â “Four years go by pretty quickly.”
- Past Performance – The best indicator of future performance is past performance.Â During times of crisis, leadersÂ give their teams security by reminding them of their track record.Â O’Brien recalls that “I don’tÂ know how many 4 or 5 star guys we had at Georgia Tech but we beat Georgia three years in a row when we were there.”
- Personal Goals – LeadersÂ understand that the best way to achieve their personal goals is by helping those on their team achieve their’s.Â As a former NFL Assistant Coach with the New England Patriots, O’Brien is leveraging hisÂ background.Â “We know how to teach them, coach them, and develop them.Â And we know how to develop them for the next league…We have a staff with NFL experience.”
- Create A New RealityÂ - “We are the NEW Penn State.”
I deeply respect Coach O’Brien.Â However, I feel he is a great leader who is sadly in the wrong place at the wrong time.
How do you think Penn State will fare thisÂ fall and the following three years?
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