Peyton Manning Just Taught Us a Lesson in Creative Leadership, and You Missed It

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Synopsis

The contrast between Peyton Manning and Cam Newton is striking and holds a very significant lesson in creative team leadership.

The SuperBowl is over, confetti and stale beer are being cleaned up and the Vince Lombardi trophy is on it's way to Denver to begin collecting dust. Winning the Superbowl is obviously a huge victory, confirmation of hard work. In all the media attention however, Peyton Manning just taught us all an amazing lesson in creative leadership, and I'm pretty sure you completely missed it. 

To better understand this lesson, it’s important to look at Manning’s opponent: Cam Newton. If you watched the post game interview with Newton, you saw a sorry sight. You saw a team leader who avoided eye contact, hung his head, hid under a hoodie and looked like he just drew the "Sad Puppy" card in a game of charades. You feel the sadness seeping through the screen.

Contrasting this response with Manning’s shows us something important, but before you think I’m referring to Manning the victor, I’m actually referring to Manning the loser. Let’s not forget, he too suffered a loss at the Super Bowl just a few years ago in what many labeeld a complete embarrassment. In fact, if anyone had a reason to draw the sad-puppy charade card, it was Peyton Manning after a much more humiliating 43-8 loss. 

When Manning was defeated by the Seattle Seahawks in the 3rd worst loss in SuperBowl history his post game interview is strikingly different. He addresses the loss, keeps his composure, stays positive and makes it clear he will accept this loss not as a road block, but as fuel for a future victory. It's easy to mistaken his reaction as simply a classy move or PR response with no real future implications, but surprisingly his positive reaction alone may be the reason he came back to win it all only 2 years later. 

It's a big claim, I know. What about hard work? What about learning from failure? Well duh, all those are important of course, but the positive reaction by itself had much bigger implications than perhaps even Manning fully grasped. 

In a study led by Leanne Atwater of the C.T. Bauer College of Business, and Abraham Carmeli of Bar-Ilan University, 193 individuals from 24 different organizations and nearly 50 job types were surveyed to better understand the specific conditions necessary when employees are expected to make creative decisions beyond routine tasks. The study showed that team members positive perception of their leader is directly tied to higher amounts of energy and greater creativity in their daily work.

If you think this is only relevant to specific companies and not your own organization, think again. The study also revealed that when compared to individuals in service organizations, employees in the industrial sector reported a higher level of creative work involvement in the same conditions!

Essentially, if leaders exude positive energy, employees are more energetic too, and that energy results in a high level of involvement in creative work. This might seem like common sense to employees, but to leaders it's easy to lose sight of this. Sometimes, leaders feel as though tougher demands are necessary to get results. Indeed, setting the bar high is critical, but this study shows how crucial it is to maintain positivity in the midst of challenging goals. 

A quote in the study from The CEO of Weston Solutions sums it up nicely. “Energy can make all the difference between whether you know you are going to have greatness, mediocrity, or failure." 

Nothing can change the outcome of Super Bowl 50. But what of Super Bowl 51? Can Newton learn from Manning’s positive approach and come back to win? Can you and I learn something? The answer is yes. No matter what adversity or failures you face, stay positive. Your reaction alone will unlock creativity and productivity from your team, setting you up for next years big win. Beer and confetti of course, are optional. 

Thanks for reading! Make sure to sign up for my newsletter to get resources on creativity and how to cultivate it. (Don’t worry, I always keep it short)

Tags: failure, justin brady, leadership, leadership styles, management, sports, superbowl

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