Aaron Rodgers is hotter than hot. And I’m not (just) talking about his good looks! SuperBowl champ and MVP last year. Undefeated season so far this year. He’s come into his own as a quarterback, his name now being mentioned in the same breath as Brady, Brees and Manning.
After reading Sports Illustrated’s recent article on Rodgers, I noticed three qualities that make him a leader worth following. Interestingly, Rodgers exhibited these characteristics in obscurity, long before he became a star. They earned him the respect of his teammates and laid the foundation for their trust of his leadership once the starting slot was his.
No one likes to wait, least of all competitive coaches and athletes. But learning how to wait will make you even better once you get to the position you want. Model these qualities, teach them to your players and watch your team trust skyrocket.
Rodgers waited quietly in the background during the Brett Favre show. Three days a week his job was to run the scout team to help prepare the Packer’s defense. Many players relegated to the scout team cop attitudes because they think they should be starting. But Aaron reframed it as an opportunity. “Those were my game reps,” he said. “Scout team is a chance to work on things….For me it was an awesome experience.”
Are you an assistant coach looking to lead your own team one day? If so, you’re blessed with the perfect opportunity to ask questions and learn! Keep a journal of the season so you can remember key lessons when you become a head coach.
Perhaps you have studs on your team that leave little playing time for other athletes. Teach your players to be learners while they wait in the wings for their chance to shine. Their work ethic and attitude in the background will have a direct impact on their success in the limelight.
Rodgers knew he could still offer leadership even though he wasn’t the starter. One seemingly small action made a big impact. He introduced himself to every player, asked for his cell phone number, researched to find out his birthday and made a point to tell each teammate “happy birthday” on his special day. “Pretty cool that he cares about people like that,” says Ruvell Martin, Rodgers’ teammate since 2005.
How do you show care and concern for your teammates? Do you know their birthdays? Their love language? There are no little things when it comes to showing you care.
Rodgers never complained during the wait. He worked, he cared, but he didn’t complain about his role or even getting booed by the fans. The consummate team player, he put the good of the team before his own. And it rubbed off on others:
Before one 2007 game at Kansas City, Martin was made inactive, and instead of going out early to throw with Rodgers, as he normally did, he sulked in the locker room.
“Right before the game,” Martin says, “Aaron came up to me and said, ‘Why didn’t you come and throw with me?’ I told him I was inactive, and he got upset. he said, ‘I throw with you every week, when we both know I’m not going to get into the game. And you’re inactive for one game and you can’t throw with me?”
I thought, Wow, this is not all about me. This is about the team. And Aaron brought that to my attention.
Accepting your role and striving to put the team’s needs ahead of your own desires shows leadership. When teammates see you handle adverse situations without complaining, it builds trust and promotes teamwork.
Are you in a season of waiting? How can you follow Aaron’s example?