Former Philadelphia Eagles Coach, Dick Vermeil, Talks Leadership

I just returned from an amazing event our team put on this past week. It’s called Exchange, and it’s designed to allow a small group of leaders the opportunity for some up and close time with John Maxwell. For three days we get to hear John teach leadership lessons, and we get to experience unique leadership learning opportunities in the host city. This year the event was in Philadelphia, Pa., and the city has so many great and historic leadership lessons! It was truly amazing to examine the courage and manner in which our forefathers led.

One of my favorite experiences at this event was our visit to the Philadelphia Eagles stadium and the leadership lessons we learned there. Dick Vermeil, who served as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1976 through 1982, taught an awesome lesson on coaching. And guess where he delivered it? In the Eagles locker room! I know what you’re thinking, and no, the locker room didn’t smell like stinky socks!

Coach Vermeil shared so many valuable lessons. Today I want to share four of my takeaways from his talk that I believe are key for all leaders.

Create a Positive Atmosphere

“Don’t dwell on the negative. Take your losses and find the good in them.”

After a game, Coach Vermeil would take film from the team’s 10 best offensive plays and the team’s 10 best defensive plays. Then, he would show those plays to the team over and over, and ask them, “How long will it take us to be this kind of team for the  entire game?”

Wow! I love this approach because it does two things for players on the field and in the office. First, by pointing out successful execution, you prove that the players have the skills to perform. It isn’t a question of whether or not they can do it. Rather, it’s a question of how we can successfully execute more often.

Second, this coaching tactic also motivates players because it shows them that they do have the talent and they can perform. So, if you lead a team, pull out their successes. Point out when they execute with excellence. Then, ask Vermeil’s question: “How long will it take us to be this kind of team for the entire game?”

It’s About the Team

“There are no bad players in the NFL. You place your bets on the best team, best organization, best attitudes, best relationships…”

You don’t have to dwell on this statement long to know he’s right! Think about it. If you make it to the NFL, then you have talent! Every team in the NFL has talented football players, but as John Maxwell states, “Talent is never enough.”

Be a Good Example

“Are you worthy of emulation?”

Wow, let that soak in. We can’t expect our team to be something we are not.

Earn Credibility

“You don’t own your job. You rent it.”

This is for all of us, whether we’re a leader or a player, whether we have a lot or a little authority, whether we own our business or work as an employee. The reality is we rent our time in this season. So, what are we going to do with it? Vermeil went on to give several examples of how our integrity is easier to lose than it is to gain.  

Coach Vermeil didn’t speak about passion. However, his was probably the most compelling message we took away from this event because he illustrated how being passionate about your profession, your vision, and your beliefs inspires everyone around you. Vermeil emulated passion in a locker room full of business professionals, and because of his passion, everyone of us would have suited up under his leadership.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No comments have been posted yet.