Like all who have led an organization, I’m sure, my heart immediately went out to Pete Carroll when I realized the ball had been intercepted. I knew what was about to happen to him: the harsh criticism of his decision would quickly morph into personal verbal attack. And sure enough, in the hours and days that followed, he has been personally vilified.
This is the same leader who won it all just thirteen months earlier. He is also the leader who led his organization further this year than thirty of the thirty-one other leaders in his industry. How’s that for “year to date” results? And by all objective accounts, he has his organization positioned to be at the foregront of its industry again next year. And it isn’t just that the man wins, apparently the journey to success is also well done. By all accounts his employees love him; they describe their workplace environment as “family”, “warm”, “fun”.
And think about the conditions under which the decision had to be made: he had roughly 15-20 seconds, SECONDS, to make a decision with millions of dollars and a significant piece of the organization’s legacy on the line. Oh, and he had to make the decision with 100,000 people screaming around him and TV cameras pointing at him. How about I give you 15 seconds to make an organization changing decision while I scream in your face at the top of my lungs?
And if you think about the bad decision he made, it wasn’t even a heart issue; it was a head issue. He didn’t steal or lie, he didn’t act maliciously, nor was there disloyalty. It was a decision made with pure motives.
The man with a strong track record, made one terrible decision, our of pure motives, at a really unfortunate time, under duress. And they promptly turned into a human pinata.
But, think that’s bad? Jesus Christ has Coach Carroll beat. Consider this: Christ never had a Pete Carroll Super Bowl blunder; in fact, Christ never had a single blunder, of any kind, ever, not even in the smallest of matters…and they killed Him. The very people who had been his followers as recently as 72 hours prior, called for His crucifixion.
Leadership is not for the faint of heart. As Christ proved, you can be the perfect leader and you’ll still face opposition. To young, aspiring leaders, take note. If you view leadership through a romantic lens, you are in for a rude awakening. To followers, if it looks to you like a leader has it easy, understand, it’s not because there is an absence of criticism, but rather the perspective of the leader regarding her criticism is shaping her demeanor. To leaders, be encouraged…it’s not you. (if you are the problem, you have to have the humility and self awareness to realize it. Listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to you.) But, if you aren’t the problem, consider that even if Jesus Himself showed up to lead your organization, He’d get beat up too! Be encouraged…it’s not you. If Christ has called you and you spend lots of time alone with Him, He will give you uncanny resilience and joy in leading. Go spend some time with our Lord, then gird up your loins and lead, much is at stake.