While Dallas came up two wins short of securing a spot in the big game in Houston, no one can deny that the ’Boys had an exciting, winning, 2016 season. Many fans attribute the team’s successful run to two rookies, quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel “Zeke” Elliott.
So what clicked for the ’Boys this year? How did two rookies help propel the team to winning the division? And what can savvy executives learn from Dak and Zeke’s success?
Successful business leaders use many of the same strategies that Dak and Zeke use, such as:
No. 1: They make rapid adjustments to keep the ball moving down the field.
While we need to give a nod to the game plan adjustments the Dallas coaching staff implemented each week, Dak and Zeke had to react and readjust in real time, and they had to do so frequently.
This same approach holds true in business. To win, you have to react to competitive threats, respond to customer demands and modify your strategy quickly to accelerate performance.
At Promote On Purpose, we refer to this phenomenon as enthusiastic pivoting. In order to win in business, you have to be prepared to make adjustments when a particular strategy isn’t working or when external forces (the economy, competitors, unforeseen events, etc.) interfere with business plans.
Relying on the same stale strategy that worked yesterday won’t propel your organization to the front of the pack. It also won’t protect your business when the economy takes a nasty turn, which leading economists expect to happen by 2018. Instead, business leaders must constantly innovate, much like Dak and Zeke did on the field each week.
Authenticity is also key! Learn more in this recent post from Promote on Purpose CEO Terri Maxwell: Truth Sells: Five Keys to Authentic Promotion
No. 2: They focus on the joy of playing well.
You know what they say, if you love what you do, what you do really isn’t a job. That’s not to say these two rookies didn’t do the work necessary to play extremely well. Throughout the season, Dak and Zeke continued to focus on what it takes to succeed at one of the most competitive games in professional sports. And they did so joyfully. The hard work of preparation was part of the fun.
To win, Dak and Zeke practiced. They did their pre-game homework. They inspired their teammates (who stepped up their games, too.) And when distractions popped up, like the media frenzy that followed the Cowboy’s late season 7-10 loss to New York, well, these rookies didn’t flinch.
They also supported each other and their teammates in the locker room where the whining and excuses from past superstars were nowhere to be found. Amen!
Successful business leaders ascribe to a similar way of thinking. They focus on the joy of excelling in their respective industries. They LOVE to win, and they love the preparation involved in winning. They do the work necessary to succeed and inspire their teams to bring their very best to the table (no whining allowed).
No. 3: They don’t let failure slow them down.
After quarterback Tony Romo injured his back during the preseason, expectations were low when Dak took the field for the season opener against New York. While Dallas lost that game, Dak, Zeke and the ’Boys pressed on and won their next 11 games, eventually securing a spot in the playoffs.
The same thing happened after the loss to New York. The team came back even stronger. ALL successful leaders know that failure is a stepping stone to success.
You see, the 2016-17 Dallas team KNEW knew they were champions, and they played that way, even when the rest of the world wasn’t so sure.
Filling in for a veteran quarterback didn’t phase Dak, who has a history of facing down adversity with amazing results. And first-round draft pick Zeke’s talent and confidence couldn’t be denied. He knows he’s one of the best running backs in professional football, and it shows.
Business champions face the world with the same high level of confidence. Even in those early stages of a company, when profits are slowly trickling in, innovative leaders see themselves as champions. They also know if they continue to put in the work, enthusiastically pivot when necessary and inspire their teams, everyone on the team wins.