7 Leadership Lessons from Peyton Manning

I am in New Orleans attending the American Rental Association trade show.  I find it a great annual update on the latest in the rental industry, an opportunity to learn at the many seminars, and a time of networking with peers in the industry who face similar challenges.  Yesterday the show opened with a keynote talk delivered by Peyton Manning, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback and five-time NFL MVP (and New Orleans native).  He offered some insight into leadership qualities that reach across industries and even sports.  Read on.

Photo from: http://www.athletize.com/peyton-manning-wallpaper/

Photo from: http://www.athletize.com/peyton-manning-wallpaper/

Peyton observed that decision-making is the currency of a successful business leader, and that to help leaders make decisions they must have people around them who will give unqualified answers and critiques.  Honest opinion from the team will help a leader implement the vision for the enterprise.

However, as expected, life, and business, is never a straight line.  It is leaders with vision, leaders that Peyton calls ‘Game Changers’ who tend to prevail over the competition.  What are traits of a game changer?

  1. Game changers thrive on discomfort.  Being comfortable is a dangerous place for a leader.  It’s probably an indicator that something is about to come off the rails.  Discomfort motivates the leader.
  2. Game changers prepare, prepare, prepare.  Peyton reviews tape intensely, works out obsessively, and strives to study all variables so that on game day he is as ready as possible for whatever the opposing team may bring into the stadium.  business leaders, as with sports leaders, should prepare obsessively.
  3. Game changers invest in a coach to keep them growing. As soon as someone stops wanting to be coached, taught or mentored they are in trouble. The landscape of the sports field changes, just as the landscape of your business.  Coaching keeps you on the top of your game.
  4. Game changers instill trust. Trust does not come from the position occupied by the leader.  It is earned by example and over time.  The leaders role is not there to offer hope to the team, they are there to offer help.
  5. Game changers stay stimulated.  Complacency does not keep company with a leader.  Leaders are constantly learning, self evaluating, and evolving. How do we as leaders move our company chains?
  6. Game changers are master observers.  They constantly search for and identify points of meaning that the competition may overlook.  They often get lost in the intense focus of figuring things out.
  7. Game changers develop relationships.  A leader understands the sustained change that comes from their relationship with the people they lead.

Are you a game changer or are you a Monday morning quarterback?

I live in the Cayman Islands and I'm married to Christina. We have two incredible children, Ryan, attending Northeastern University in Boston, MA, and Taylor, attending Trinity College School, in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada. I own several businesses in Cayman. My list of 'pasts' include past chairman of the Cayman Islands Special Economic Zone Authority, past president of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, and past president of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce.

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One thought on “7 Leadership Lessons from Peyton Manning

  1. David,

    Some great lessons here from Peyton Manning. In addition, I consider you a “game-changer”, so I would really love to hear what David would like to share as your lessons for other game-changers. Do tell !

    Two first thoughts from these lessons in your blog :
    – A couple of years ago we had one of Cayman’s top corporate leaders give a talk at the close of one of our annual programmes. To Peyton’s point on discomfort, they similarly shared their own key piece. They shared that whenever they feel comfortable, they recognise that as a sign to look for their next “zone”, their next level.
    – For me personally, I’m relishing my CEO role in Shirlaws globally. At the same time, a while ago I recognised that I was feeling really comfortable, on top of my game. What did I do ? I hired myself a coach. To me the absolute top time to hire a coach is exactly when you are on top of your game, they can help you reach even higher.