Aaron Rodgers and the Loss of a Great Teammate
The most crucial ingredient in a team that achieves and sustains historic greatness is the character of the person who leads it.
The 2023 season offered great promise for the New York Jets.
They acquired Aaron Rodgers, a four-time Most Valuable Player in the NFL as their new starter, spending millions of dollars to surround him with players he felt most comfortable with.
The entire organizations believed this was its year — and Rodgers was the man to make it all happen. Suddenly, four plays into the season, Rodgers limped off the field and was lost for the season with a torn Achilles.
The Jets season was ruined.
Or was it?
Losing Rodgers is devastating for the Jets, but their leadership team cannot wallow in their misfortunes. The most crucial ingredient in a team that achieves and sustains historic greatness is the character of the person who leads it.
Whenever a setback occurs, there is an opportunity to find a new solution. As Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
Robert Saleh, the head coach of the Jets, must provide the new direction, must re-shift the focus to a new winning strategy. This is a great opportunity for him to show his leadership skills. He cannot act sad or talk about the unfortunate misshape. Time isn’t on his side and more importantly, his competitors don’t care about their loss.
What should all leaders do when they lose a vital employee?
1. Remind the team — EVERYONE is replaceable. This might seem harsh and insensitive, making people seem like machine parts, but it’s true.
2. Stop talking about it. Losing great teammates is hard and causes a mourning period, for one day. The clock is ticking, and as the leader, there cannot be any more conversations about the event. It’s in the past, not part of the team — and we don’t discuss the past.
3. Turn a Negative into a Positive. Now, the “us against everyone mantra” can work. Everyone doubts our chances, which allows the leader to challenge everyone to reach new levels.
4. Don’t Panic. Don’t allow the outside voices dictate the new plan. Close ranks and build confidence in the team—and strive for improvement in the areas of strength. It’s important to strengthen the strength.
5. Create a New Identity. When a team loses a vital team member, it’s vital to re-create a new personality. The leader must demonstrate and show the pathway towards victory by creating a new path. The team isn’t on the same road, so they need to know where they are headed.
6. Remind everyone teams win, not Individuals. As a leader, a significant loss can help remind the team about the value of We vs. I. It takes a team to win, not one person.
When it appears to be hopeless, a great leader can find hope.
Within the message of it, the leader needs to sell the new plan.