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Hail to the Victors

I am a college football junkie and a University of Michigan fan. Watching them win the national championship in football was a delight. How they did it was even more surprising. (Many of you have heard the allegations of cheating. I cannot confirm nor deny them).

I read an article following their big win and of course I highlighted the leadership points. Here are the interesting leadership tidbits on how Michigan was able to be successful this season.

  1. Coach Harbaugh had his successor in place. Jim Harbaugh was suspended for six regular season games. During the most difficult stretch of the season, he was not on the sideline with his team, but his Offensive Co-Ordinator, Sherone More, led the team to impressive wins against Penn State, Maryland, and Ohio State. This was the hardest stretch of the schedule and Michigan won every game. Should Jim Harbaugh leave for an NFL position, Michigan will be in good hands.

  2. He recruited a top coach for his defense. Defense wins championships and Jim Harbaugh recruited Jesse Mentor, and NFL coach from the Baltimore Ravens, to run his defense. Coach Mentor installed sophisticated defensive schemes that confused quarterbacks and wide receivers from other teams. Marvin Harrison, Jr., a top wide receiver from Ohio State remarked after losing to Michigan he had never seen the coverages schemed against him.

  3. He made sure his players were mentally prepared. Jim Harbaugh also hired the best strength and conditioning coach available, Ben Herbert. Coach Herbert made sure the players were stronger, tougher, and faster than any team on the field. In the fourth quarter when most teams are exhausted, Michigan players were still on the field at near full strength and mental toughness.

  4. His players bought into his philosophy regarding winning. No matter how many distractions faced the team, the players remained focused on one goal - a national championship. They worked together as one unit, shared their vision and mission daily, an made sure nothing would keep them from achieving their mission. They finished what they started.

According to 247Sports, a sports metrics company, the University of Michigan had the 14th rated talent composite in college football, the lowest since 2015. Michigan has only had one recruiting class above the top 10 in the last 10 years. In comparison, Alabama had 18 five-star players and Michigan only had three. On paper, they were not supposed to win. Despite the odds they won beating top ranked teams Alabama, and Washington to win the national championship. How did they win? What was the key to their success? Michigan’s talent evaluation and player development were enough to become the best team in college football this season.

Hiring mangers and their recruitment teams work hard to find the best talent in the marketplace. What is done to develop the team members currently on board? Is their enough assignment shadowing or mentoring programming in place? Do the managers and leaders spend time working with other team members to highlight potential and get them ready for succession? Has top talent been identified and put on the right track to succeed in leadership? Many times we miss opportunities groom talent amidst our ranks because we believe no one is good enough. If we spent more time investing in potential, we may not need to look so hard or so often on the outside for qualified people. I coached little league baseball for several years and won my first league championship by teaching kids, many who never played baseball, how to win.

If you are in leadership, commit your mission and vision to more talent development. The best people to help manage and lead your companies are the people already under your roof.

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