Winning Losers and Drafting for a Winning Season

Football-and-helmutThe end of the NFL season is interesting when it comes to hiring. If you are reading this and your team (like our beloved Eagles) didn’t make it to the Super Bowl, you are likely hearing about coaches being fired, new ones hired and the draft.

And, unfortunately, that’s all you are going to hear about from your favorite team until the season starts again.

But this phenomenon in the NFL is an interesting study in hiring. Here are two things that jump out at me at the end of every season.


How can a losing coach be a winner somewhere else? This is really interesting. If you are in Philadelphia, you had to watch as Andy Reid put together a pretty good season (yes, I know the story too – leave Philly and suddenly you are a star – we have too many examples of that). But the point is: Many coaches change teams after literally being fired. Fired!

In business, if you saw that someone had been fired two or three times in less than 10 years, you would start to wonder and probably not consider them. So I think there are two lessons here: First, there is a lot to be said about culture and fit. When you fit in with the system, get along with the owner and the team, you stand a better chance of being successful.

Second, you are really no better than the talent you have working for you. Now there’s certainly something to be said about leadership and getting them to work together, but you have to have good talent, motivate them and point them in the right direction to get anything done. Once again, this is easier to achieve if you have a good culture fit at all levels and a strong team that can work together.

Bonus lesson from Andy Reid - perhaps when you have been at a company too long, and people don’t believe in you and you’re a bit stuck, you might start believing you won’t succeed either. Maybe it’s time for a change at that point.


Creating a talent community is like having your own personal draft. In the NFL, there is a draft each year and the order is determined by some complex system of how bad you were last season, the picks you got and traded and some other stuff I don’t understand. But if you are developing your talent community and constantly engaging candidates, you are in essence, building your own draft.

And how you engage the candidates and connect with the talent community determines your draft order. The better you are, the better the chances you will draft the next superstar before someone else does. If you are not, then you are relegated to whoever’s left after everyone else picks. You might get lucky with some undrafted, free agent, but the odds are pretty low.

Bonus lesson from Chip Kelly – When things are unsure, just a few small victories can make a difference. And when you get a little confidence, and give it to your team, it’s contagious.

So as we wait on the sidelines for next year’s season think about your hiring practices and what you are doing to create the right fit, draft superstars and put together a winning organization.

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