The NFL’s Leadership Failure

These are the facts as we know them:

  • Early in the morning of February 15, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his then-fiancé Janay Palmer got into a physical altercation in an Atlantic City elevator. Both parties were arrested following the event.
  • A few days later, the popular celebrity news website TMZ published surveillance footage that showed Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of the elevator. Rice was accused of “striking [Janay] with his hand, rendering her unconscious.”
  • In June, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell met with Rice and his wife to hear their versions of what happened. After hearing their accounts and evaluating the evidence the league had gathered, Goodell decided to suspend Rice for two games.
  • Then, last week, TMZ published footage of what took place inside the elevator that fateful night. America watched in horror as Rice punched his fiancé in the face and rendered her unconscious. The media and general public erupted in outrage. Shortly thereafter Rice was suspended from the NFL indefinitely.

This series of events is not only disturbing on multiple levels but also shows a profound failure of leadership by the NFL at every point in the handling of this tragic incident. Allow me to elaborate:

  • The NFL alleges that they never saw the footage inside the elevator until it was released by TMZ on Monday. This is ludicrous. They either did not want to see that footage or are lying. Goodell knew the footage existed and if he had wanted the video, he could have gotten it. Best case scenario—Goodell is an incompetent leader who failed to do his job and made a serious decision based on incomplete information. Worst case scenario—Goodell saw the video and tried to sweep it under the rug. (According to the Associated Press, a law enforcement official sent the video to NFL executives in April.) If this is the case, Goodell’s leadership has no integrity and can no longer be trusted by the public.
  • The NFL has been slow to act, indecisive when they did act, and reactive instead of proactive throughout this ordeal. Five weeks after Rice was suspended for two games (which was followed by a great deal of public criticism), the NFL announced a policy on domestic violence that would require a six week suspension for a first offense, and lifetime ban for the second (reinstatement could be sought after one year). Then the infamous elevator video was released and Rice was suspended indefinitely. So this begs the question, what is the NFL’s policy against domestic violence? And why has the policy changed three times since July 25? It seems clear that, unlike drug use, there is no definitive policy against domestic violence; instead, domestic violence is treated as a PR issue and the NFL’s position towards offenders is based solely on the current level of outrage from the media and public. Their message seems to be: If you are going to commit domestic violence, do not get caught on video.

The Ray Rice elevator incident did not occur within a vacuum—it is a society-wide issue. The NFL has proved just as incapable as dealing with this complex issue as society has as a whole. For decades, the NFL’s position has been to sweep difficult issues under the rug and preserve the status quo. This is not leadership and society deserves better. Now all that remains to be seen: will the NFL step up and tackle their issues head on? Will they lead the way in effecting positive change?

by Sarah Clark

growth, leadership

 Does your team expect more from you?

Yesterday, I was talking to a friend who is a proud democrat.  Our conversation went like this:

Me: “You know I am apolitical and that I want all of our Presidents to succeed – but it seems like President Obama can’t catch up to the problems he has to solve.  He has lost control of the conversation and he’s too disconnected to be effective.  What do you think?”

Him: “He is disconnected.  I don’t know exactly when or how, but he has lost his focus.”  He paused and thought about the question for a long time and then said, “I expected a lot more from him.”

I thought he framed his disappointment perfectly.  If he had the chance to tell the President, “I thought you were going to do more. I trusted you to lead well,” I would like to be a fly on that wall, observing the outcome.

Every leader should ask themselves: If you gave your team the chance to voice their real opinion what would they say? If the answer to that question is “I thought you would have done more,” then there is some serious work to be done.

If your team might be thinking this way – you need to find a way to do more – while you still have the opportunity to lead.

by Mike Nally

growth, leadership

Solve Your People’s Problems

As an executive coach, I spend a lot of time with CEO’s that are frustrated with their people and exhausted with the constant people problems they have to address.  My advice to them is always the same, “Get over it – fast.”

Leaders must be problem solvers

One of the key responsibilities of a leadership position is to solve people’s problems so that they can focus on accomplishing the mission of the organization. Figuring out a way to get people engaged is the most important job of a team leader. Leading by example and consistently showing others your commitment to the company’s mission and to their success is the best way to get good people to help accomplish a goal.

Don’t limit yourself

Leaders who don’t like to deal with people problems are limited in their ability to unleash potential, create extraordinary alignment and results in an organization. It’s the people who make it happen – if that wasn’t true – every person with an MBA would be a billionaire.  Leaders that are self aware enough to know why they get frustrated with people and self-confident enough to deal with their issues so they can lead better will always be better prepared to lead their team toward success.

By Mike Nally

Be, Entrepreneurs, leadership, Teamwork

Forming Effective Leadership Teams

Forming an effective and supportive leadership team is crucial for organizational growth. Finding the right fit for your team takes time and a discerning eye because everyone has their own agenda and their own goals.  Leaders must choose and train leadership teams that can work together to solve problems and grow the organization.

To do so, leaders must find people with not only the requisite capabilities but also with the personalities and characteristics that will create chemistry between the team. Without chemistry communication, trust, collaboration, and selflessness is lost. A leadership team that is divided will waste organizational resources and opportunities wrestling each other for control of direction. A bad leader will destroy team chemistry and slow or stop progress.

Leaders must choose people who showcase positive leadership qualities and mold them into an effective team for an organization to thrive. Leaders and leadership teams have to gel before an organization can grow. Know your team and understand their strengths, weaknesses, goals and needs in order to give them ample opportunities to increase their self-awareness.

Remember: The team leader must set the example for positive leadership change by doing the work to grow as a leader before they ask others to do the same.   

by Mike Nally


What questions guide your workplace culture?

What should you ask yourself if you want to lead a better workplace culture? The following questions may help you define your ideal culture:

  • Do you understand the core beliefs and behaviors that really guide the thoughts and actions of your team? 
  • Do you have an idea of what your culture should be or could be
  • Do you know how your competitor’s culture is helping define how you do business? 
  • Do you understand what changes would have to occur in your culture to reach your goals – or better yet – to reach your company’s potential? 
  • Are you in a culture that makes you proud?

If you answered no to any of the questions above – make a difference – be a catalyst – ask the right questions and find the answers until you understand how your culture is different and how that helps your company find success. 

Special organizations have special cultures.  If you can’t say your culture is special – it’s time to change something.  It’s time to know what makes your culture tick.

by Mike Nally

Entrepreneurs, evolution, growth, leadership, work ethic

Grow up, leaders!

“So you’re the guys that’s going to fix my team,” he said.

“I will certainly frame the issues, find the root causes, create some options for improvement- but you, your leaders, and your teams will cause the real changes.”

“So if we’re going to do all the work, why should we pay you guys?”

“You need us to help you grow as leaders to see what you won’t see and own what you won’t own.”

“We know what the problems are- we just can’t get our managers and people to do what we want.”

“Then you don’t know what the problems are.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“The problem is…”

Hall of Fame football Coach Bill Parcells said, “A coach is as good as his current record.”  He was right: coaches and leaders are judged by their current results.

The problems within organizations are a reflection of a leaders willingness to own the results, find the root of the problem, and the culmination of the actions taken to solve the problems and change the results. Consequently, leaders need to grow and change their perspective, level of accountability, and willingness to act decisively and differently to cause change in their organization.

A leaders mindset is the organizations cap on growth. The organization can’t grow if the leaders see, think, and act the same way regardless of how hard people work. Leaders must have the foresight and drive to evolve personally so that they may meet the demands of a transformation with an organization.

When you grow, your organization will grow.

By Mike Nally

Be, Cause, Entrepreneurs, evolution, growth, leadership

Growth & Evolution for Leaders

As a leader, growing and evolving is an ongoing process. You don’t just experience something new, learn a lesson and that’s all you need for the rest of your life. There are many lessons to learn and you will never stop encountering new challenges that test your leadership ability.

Most often I think of the adage, “If you know better, do better.” With this in mind, it can seem that the onslaught of everyday challenges is never ending. I say this because, every time you know a little bit more than you subsequently have more tasks at hand as you tackle the challenge of doing more.

With all of this in mind, growing and evolving can seem like a daunting process without a light at the end of the tunnel. I mean, aren’t we ever just doing “good enough”? Must there always be more? Do we have to keep changing? Isn’t trying my best all that I can do? When do I have time to just relax and be satisfied with myself?

Change is inevitable. You will never escape the lessons that life throws your way- whether or not you learn and evolve from those lessons is entirely up to you. So to answer those previous questions I would say:

As long as you are aware of the actions that you are taking, why you are taking them, and who you are in that moment- you are doing “good enough.” There will always be more challenges in life- they only stop when you die. You don’t have to keep changing, but if you choose not to learn from your experiences, you will continually encounter frustration and apathy, as you just can’t seem to escape the same thing over and over again. I would encourage you to always take the time to relax so that you have a chance to contemplate where you presently are, where you have been, and where you would like to go. Relaxation is an important step, because growing and changing is tiring work. And finally, self satisfaction comes in knowing that you are truly doing all that you can with your life and you will feel more satisfied with your life as you evolve and learn new things.

By Kristen Keyes