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Leadership Perspectives Blog
What Kind of a Leader Are You?

What Kind of a Leader Are You?

Welcome to “Leadership Perspectives,” a new blog focusing on strategies, best practices and ideas for taking EHS performance – and your career – to a higher level. This is part of a new web page focusing on EHS leadership, and we welcome your feedback on how to improve it. We also welcome blog submissions from the EHS community – as this section is all about you, not us.

It’s Friday, so I thought I’d have a little fun (if you’re reading this on a Monday or Tuesday, just pretend it’s Friday). Based on personal experience and on articles I’ve read, there are a number of different types of leaders. As a football fan, I thought it would be fun to look at the leadership styles of some of the great NFL coaches.

Which one most closely resembles your leadership approach?

  • The disciplinarian (Vince Lombardi) – There are a number of characteristics that made former Green Bay coach Vince Lombardi the most revered coach in NFL history (and perhaps sports history), including his charisma, dedication and work ethic. But Lombardi’s focus on discipline is legendary. In ESPN’s “Greatest Coaches in NFL History,” Hall of Famer Paul Hornung says: “There were times we didn’t like how hard he pushed us. He was a real ass. We called him a son of a bitch in practice … and then you start realizing it’s all for our own good.”
  • The rock (Chuck Noll) – Former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll was a renaissance man – a lover of fine wine, classical music and gourmet cooking. Despite his multi-faceted personality, perhaps his greatest strength as a coach was his steady demeanor. Says former Steeler Mel Blount on “The big thing with Chuck Noll was how consistent he was dealing with players. As a player, you always knew what to do and when to do it. … You wouldn't see him give a high five if you made a great play or get in your face if you made a bad play. I guess that would make Chuck Noll a dinosaur now.”
  • The perfectionist (Bill Belichick) – Love him or hate him, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick will go down in history as one of the NFL’s all-time greatest coaches. And a big reason for that is his game planning and relentless attention to detail. Says Mike Lombardi in ESPN’s “Greatest Coaches in NFL History”: “I’ve always said that if Bill Belichick was in the house-building business, he’d build one house but it would be the most incredible house of all time.”
  • The innovator (Hank Stram) – Let’s face it: Former Kansas City coach Hank Stram probably always will be best-known for imploring his team to “matriculate the ball down the field” while being mic’d up during Super Bowl IV (Stram was the first coach to wear a wireless microphone, by the way). But Stram made his mark in the NFL for being an intelligent, creative coach – an innovator. “His coaching innovations,” says Kevin Stone of, “can still be seen in today's game. He is credited for developing the moving pocket, which he used to take advantage of quarterback Len Dawson's mobility. He also was the first to use two-tight-end sets to provide extra protection against the pass rush. On the other side of the ball, Stram was the first to stack his defensive front seven with the linebackers right behind the down linemen.”
  • The player's coach (John Madden) – John Madden has had made such an indelible mark on sports as a loveable broadcaster (and the face of a wildly successful video game) that it’s easy to forget that he was one heck of a football coach in the 1960s and 1970s. At the helm of the Oakland Raiders, Madden led the franchise to seven division titles and one Super Bowl victory. In ESPN’s “Greatest Coaches in NFL History,” players and other sports figures marvel at how Madden was able to manage all of the personalities on Oakland’s roster. Says former Raider defensive back George Atkinson on “We had some characters. For him to manage us and keep us engrossed in playing football and winning, that was in and of itself a hell of a job. A lot of guys had been rejected from other teams. The NFL had basically given up on them, and … John was smart enough to understand what he had. We as players, we played hard for him.”
  • The turnaround artist (Bill Parcells) – Bill Parcells specialized in converting a struggling franchise into a winner – in short order. Parcells took the helm of four different teams that had won five or fewer games the previous season, and guided each team to the playoffs by his second season. How did he do it? He built a winning culture by “motivating the guys [who] weren’t the most talented guys in the league,” says Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor. “He made us believe in ourselves that we could get the job done.”
  • The cheerleader (Bill Cowher) – Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher didn’t make ESPN’s all-time list, but I believe that he deserves inclusion on my list because he was the ultimate cheerleader. Before he was bursting into people’s homes as a spokesman for Time Warner Cable, Cowher was stalking his players on the sidelines, grabbing their jersies and facemasks, exhorting them to give that extra little bit of effort to win – spit flying everywhere. Like all great coaches, he seemed to be able to get the best out of his players.

What kind of a leader are you?

Oh, and back to what I said earlier: If you’re interested in blogging about EHS leadership, please give us a shout.

Stay safe my friends.



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