Lessons On Pride From Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers


Pride, Leadership, and The Green Bay Packers

Excuse the abridgement, but Proverbs 16:18 said it best: Pride goes before a fall.

The leadership lessons we’ve gleaned so far from the pre-season struggles between Brett Lorenzo Favre (hereafter “Cuatro”) and the Green Bay Packers have been plentiful. (To read an earlier lesson from these two juggernauts of leadership, follow this link.)

Among other things, we learned that the Packers did a poor job of externally communicating their quarterback intentions early enough, and we learned that people we once thought were selfless leaders (like Cuatro) are really just selfish crybabies who chant the overused mantra “play me or trade me.”

Despite what you see on the cover of EA Sports’ Madden ‘09, Cuatro will not be playing for the Packers this year. The Packers, unwilling to guarantee Cuatro the starting quarterback role, traded the Hattiesburg, MS gunslinger to the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets.

Good news for the Jets, decent news for Cuatro, and disastrous news for the Packers.

The Packers, allowing their pride to get in the way of a good business decision, must now win their division and at least two playoff games or they’ll look like fools. What’s more is that they stand to lose millions of dollars in jersey sales if Aaron Rodgers fails to perform in Cuatro-like fashion.

Based on their egotistical decision making, TheManager predicts that the prideful Packers will finish no better than 9-7 this season. While they may sneak into the playoffs with this record, it’s a far cry from the 13-3 that Cuatro attained for them last season.

Pride Kills

Actually, speed kills, but pride can still be extremely dangerous in business. Pride involves ego and ego is often the worst leadership characteristic a manager can bring. Just look at the management of the Green Bay Packers. Their inability to capitulate on their earlier stance of “Aaron Rodgers is our starting quarterback” required that they draw a line in the sand. This line became impossible to cross once Cuatro made it clear he would also remain strong in his stance of “play me or trade me.”

Cuatro won, the Packers blinked. They gave up their best chance of getting to the Super Bowl because changing their earlier stance would make them seem weak. Their pride was too great to allow them to make the best decision for their team. Pride killed the Green Bay Packers chances for Super Bowl greatness this season.

“When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way…”

The New York Jets, who had a dismal 4-12 record in 2007, are now expected by many sportswriters to contend for a wild card spot. Not so fast. Cuatro is a no-doubt, first ballot Hall-of-Famer, but he is not about to improve the Jets’ record by the 6-7 games required to make the playoffs. TheManager predicts the Jets will finish no better than 8-8, and Cuatro will throw more interceptions than touchdowns. (Interestingly, they would probably have finished somewhere around 7-9 without Favre.)

While Cuatro uniquely understands the Packers offense, he will struggle to learn the Jets’ system before the fourth or fifth week of the season. And, while the Jets have a couple of pretty good receivers, Cuatro’s pride will be working overtime to prove to the world that he is still great – this will lead to some classic situations where Cuatro forces his passes and creates interceptions.

Cuatro may still be great, but his need to prove this to the world is going to be his undoing. If he had displayed real leadership and remained with the Packers –even if it meant he would have to earn the starting role – he would have been more comfortable in the position once Rodgers inevitably stumbled.

Pride is often a great trait to have as an employee, though it’s an equally terrible trait to have as a manager or a leader. Managers and businesses who make decisions based on ego or pride soon find themselves on the bottom looking up.

The Packers drew a line in the sand and they stuck to their guns – admirable if not for the fact that they tripped over their pride in the process. Cuatro, Brett Lorenzo Favre, let his pride cloud the fact that real leaders would put the team first and themselves second.

Both Cuatro and the Packers stand to lose in the end.