“I had everyday goals. Be the first one there. Be a guy that has a great attention to detail. Then I also had legacy goals. I want to win multiple Super Bowls here in Seattle and just do great things like that. I believe that the way you work and what you focus on will help you get to where you want to go.” – Seattle Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson

One of the most important things leaders can do is invest in the next generation of leaders.  This is a critical element in creating a sustainable organization that is not built around a single individual.

With one week remaining in the NFL season, 2012 will be remembered as the Year of the Rookie Quarterback.  As I studied the leadership of four rookie quarterbacks, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick, I discovered 19 Practices Of these Highly Successful Young Leaders.  Let’s take a look at each.

Robert Griffin III – The following lessons were gathered from a December 5th USA Today article:

  • Find A Proper System Fit – Highly successful young leaders are part of organizations where their skills are a great fit.  Washington Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan crafted a specific system to incorporate college-spread principles Griffin used while at Baylor.
  • Respect Others – Griffin showed tremendous relational intelligence by respecting and showing honor to everyone.
  • Promote Others – Redskins officials often comment , “They’re chanting his name and he’s talking about (running back) Alfred Morris as rookie of the year.”
  • Make Good Decisions – Thus far, Griffin has thrown for 20 Touchdowns with only 5 Interceptions.  Good decision-making skills by young leaders do not put organizations at risk.

Andrew Luck – from the November 12th and December 3rd editions of Sports Illustrated

  • Be Accountable – Highly successful young leaders take responsibility for their actions.  Luck’s accountability and toughness have given veteran teammates great confidence in him.
  • Provide Solutions – Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians says, “My quarterback has to be able to fix problems.”
  • An Ability And Willingness To Learn – The Stanford graduate is widely regarded for his intelligence.  Arians also added, “You could tell he’d studied the crap out of each play.  He had an answer for everything.  That’s something you see in a second- or third-year quarterback, maybe.”
  • Produce/Win – Highly Successful Young Leaders do not make excuses.  They simply find a way to get things done.  John Maxwell’s The Law Of The Edge teaches that leadership is the difference between two evenly matched teams.  Colts are 9-1 in games decided by 7 points or less.
  • The Ability To Forget – Quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen says, “But he’s a great forgetter.  He won’t be cocky the day after played a great game, like against Miami, and he won’t be down in the dumps after a game like New England.”
  • Have A Filter – In addition to being highly intelligent, Luck is also extremely wise.  He says, “Staying unconnected (from social media)…it’s a way for me to get away from things.  There’s a lot in this business you don’t need to know.”

Russell Wilson – The following is from December 23rd’s ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown feature on the Seahwawk quarterback.

  • Seize Opportunity – There is a difference between sensing opportunity and seizing it.  Wilson won the job in training camp.  He simply competed every day and out-performed free agent Matt Flynn.
  • Show Relentless Attention To Detail – Teammate Golden Tate states, “He doesn’t make mistakes.”
  • Set Daily And Legacy Goals – “I had everyday goals.  Be the first one there.  Be a guy that has a great attention to detail.  Then I also had legacy goals.  I want to win multiple Super Bowls here in Seattle and just do great things like that.  I believe that the way you work and what you focus on will help you get to where you want to go.” – Wilson
  • Inspire Others – “He provides hope for this football team.” – Mike Ditka
  • Be Resilient – “He won’t flinch emotionally.  This history of this kid tells me that.” – Tom Jackson

The following three additional habits were gathered from Wilson’s interview With NBC’s Bob Costas

  • Prepare Well and Trust Your Preparation – “I don’t ever think negative.  You can’t.  You have to think on the positive.  You have to believe in yourself and what you do.  And just play the game.  You have to go out there and trust your preparation, what you’ve learned and what you’ve done so far.  And experience has helped me a lot.”
  • Be Self-Motivated – “It’s (lack of size) helped me.  It’s motivated me.  I believe you have to step up and change people’s minds.”
  • Focus On What You Have.  Not What You Do Not – “I have long arms and big hands and that’s what helps you.”

Colin Kaepernick from the December 3rd Sports Illustrated

  • Perform With Confidence – Teammate Frank Gore says of Kaepernick, “The guy is just a football player.  He’s just out there playing.”

If your organization can attract four young leaders who master these 19 practices, then you too will have a bright and sustainable future.

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