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Craig Huntington

Craig Huntington

It's Not Easy Being the Leader

Posted by Craig Huntington
Craig Huntington
Craig Huntington received his Bachelor of Science degree in business from Oregon
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 22 August 2013 in Blog

For those who are bold enough to stick their heads up and lead the way inside a corporation, a political party, a school, a church or on the playing field, those are the ones who are most likely to take arrows in the back from “the troops.” They are the leaders, the risk-takers who drive change – and who represent the biggest targets.


Whether it’s professional jealousy, insecurity in the workplace or a love of gossip, there are always plenty of folks taking aim at the leader. It’s unfortunate that people feel the need to elevate themselves by tearing others down, but as Zig Ziglar said: Some people find fault like there’s a reward for it.


Last week an extremely accomplished National Football League leader was taking shots from two ex-teammates. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was the target; former Packers wide receivers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver were the ones who seemed intent on smudging Rodgers’ shining star.


It began when Jennings, who played seven seasons with the Packers, and who is now a member of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, took a jab at Rodgers in an interview with Dan Wiederer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Jennings said, “A lot of times when you have a guy who creates that spotlight for himself (meaning Rodgers) and establishes that and takes a lot of that, it becomes so-and-so and the team. It should always be the team.


“For me, I’m such a team person. I’m going to defer to my teammates. I’m going to defer to the team, to the team, to the team. And I think when you reach a point where you’re not deferring any longer, it’s no longer really about the team.”


In short, Jennings’ comments were an accusation that Rodgers is all about Rodgers… and not so much about the team.


A few days later, former Packer receiver Donald Driver appeared on the ESPN radio program Mike and Mike and shed new light on Jennings’ problem with the current Packers quarterback.


"We've always been in the room and we've always said that the quarterback is the one who needs to take the pressure off of everyone else," Driver said. “If a guy runs the wrong route, it's easy for the quarterback to say, 'Hey, I told him to run that route,' than the guy to say, 'Hey, I ran the wrong route.'


"Sometimes you ask Aaron to take the pressure off those guys so we don't look bad. He didn't want to do that. He felt like if you did something bad, you do it. That's the difference. You want that leadership. I think sometimes you may not feel like you got it. You have to earn that respect at the end of the day."


Interesting perspective, isn’t it? From the viewpoint of these two veteran NFL receivers, leadership from the quarterback position involves covering up their mistakes to the press.


You know, so they wouldn’t look bad.


Apparently, Rodgers wouldn’t play along. He wouldn’t take the blame when his receivers ran the wrong routes. He wanted his teammates to own their mistakes and work hard to minimize those mental errors… to polish their craft and accept responsibility if and when they screwed up.


Crazy, huh?


This is the same Aaron Rodgers who rarely played during his rookie year, but ran the scout team during practice. (The “scout team” is the practice squad that tries to mimic the upcoming opponent’s offense to help their team defense in preparation for the next contest. Rodgers competed against the first team Green Bay defense in practice.)


According to online accounts, Rodgers stated that his time on the practice squad was crucial to his growth, since that was his only opportunity to play. The Packer defense and scouts often complained that Rodgers was practicing too hard, and at one point, asked him to back off. Rodgers confessed that he likely aggravated his teammates by how intense he was during practice.


In a November 7, 2011 Sports Illustrated story by Tim Layden, the very same Donald Driver was critical of Rodgers’ approach to the scout team, indicating that it wasn’t cool to go full-throttle during practice. “But Aaron took every scout-team possession like it was the last possession of his life.”


Rodgers’ work ethic has earned him a Super Bowl championship and the game’s Most Valuable Player award. He is the NFL’s all-time career leader in passer rating during the regular season with a 104.9 rating, and third all-time in the postseason with a rating of 103.6. Rodgers was also named Associated Press Athlete of the Year in 2011.


I’ve defined a true leader as someone who takes action not only in his/her profession, but also in his/her personal life, in the community, and in the world – someone who makes things happen.


A true leader leads by example, by doing, by getting his or her hands dirty. A true leader is willing to make mistakes. A true leader is willing to jump into the fray and come out a little bloodied if necessary.


As an NFL quarterback, being a leader means getting pulverized by 300-pound defensive linemen when you’re trying to guide your team to victory.


And taking arrows in the back from ex-teammates that you’ve helped succeed.



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