It seems like Aaron Rodgers is just the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to personally motivated antics that are wrapped up inside what is supposed to be a team sport. His latest dance with ambiguity is whether or not he has a broken toe or Covid Toe. You can read all about the story in the Wall Street Journal.
We think the Covid Toe story of Aaron Rodgers is similar to a tell in a poker game. As a leader of others, do you have an equivalent tell you can listen for like Covid Toe?
Covid Toe is the body's extremely painful reaction to fighting the virus. It comes from your body making excess interferon which can turn toes reddish or even purple. It gets worse in cold climates and the best way to avoid getting Covid Toe….is wait for it….to get VACCINATED.
Yes the irony is thick for this apparently very intelligent quarterback who continues to look more like Scrooge as he ages, especially in comparison to Tom Brady who has seven titles to Rodgers one. What type of signs or tells can you be on the lookout for in your organization? What are the signs that someone is leading an individualistic countermovement inside your team?
It takes a special type of listening and observing to notice the signs, but unlocking the hidden productivity inside your people comes from creating the right situations and moments where those with low power are empowered to communicate what they see and how they feel.
Michael Useem of the Wharton School of Business wrote a book called "The Leadership Moment" about nine different leadership moments from recent history that make for great case studies. Himalayan explorer, Arlene Blum’s historic all female ascent of Annapurna is potentially relevant as she faced a great deal of silence from her highly competent team in the first third of their expedition. Silence did not equal compliance in that setting, and as is often the case there isn’t always enough time to obtain consensus. The apparent opposing forces of command and control and consensus are a leader’s challenge. Constructive and frequent dialogue are key tools to unlock the contributions from the entire team that are needed. Blum’s story is well told by Useem and the tragic loss of two of the team who sought personal glory highlights the consequences of what would be an extreme case of Covid Toe.
Collective human systems can fluctuate between group and team behaviors quickly based upon the positive benefits of being together. The parity of talent in the NFL makes the difference between winning and losing a game of inches and split seconds. Hiking the tallest mountains in the world presents life and death perils.
Thankfully most of us aren’t operating in either of these situations, yet our competitive advantages may not have large moats, our margins may be shrinking and our employees need their jobs. You can’t afford any Covid Toe moments that will disrupt your team chemistry. Managing the expectations of your base and keeping their roles dynamic increases your chances of staying in the team state where accountability to each other is paramount. Groups run slowly on norms, while teams move at the speed of trust that is collectively felt by the unit.
Are the Packers still a team that can move with the pace that is needed to succeed?
Thank you for your readership and friendship and have a great thanksgiving weekend and joyful Christmas season!
Drew & Sara
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