Monday, December 31, 2007

When leaders admit mistakes

When this football season started, Quentin Groves was 4 sacks shy of beating the Auburn University's record of 26 sacks held by Gerald Robinson. Quentin made 2 sacks during the Kansas State University game--the 1st game of the season.

Two games later at the Mississippi State University, Quentin was still 1 sack away from tieing Gerald Robinson's sack record. MSU was able to produce on Auburn's mistakes throughout the game, handing Auburn a very disappointing loss on Auburn's home field. Simply, MSU did what they needed to do to create a win. Coach Sylvester Croom who has had his share of growing pains in developing the MSU Bulldog team is improving each year.

During the MSU-AU game, Auburn fans booed the quarterback and coaches. Geez, I will never understand why fans boo college players. What makes any fan believe booing his own team will make the players play better?

Fans continued to spout lots of blame and disappointment toward the Auburn quarterback and coaches during the following week. The one who stepped up to the challenged and brought a light of leadership to the team and to the public was senior defensive end Quentin Groves.

Quentin publicly blamed himself for the lost. Auburn led 14-13, MSU had the ball in the final few minutes of the game. Stopping MSU could have forced a long field goal attempt. On a draw play, MSU carried the ball 18 yards, setting up a touchdown. MSU won 19-14.

"It’s my fault," Groves said Saturday. "Shame on me."
Groves admitted he was more focused on pass-rushing than covering the run in that situation.
"Being the great pass-rush mind that I am - God forgive me - I lined up too wide," Groves said. "It hurt our team."
"It was third-and-12, and I was just like, ‘I know it’s going to be pass."
Groves said. "I should have been thinking like a coach: They just wanted a field goal to go up."
"I was being selfish."
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said Groves went overboard in putting all the blame on himself. But that’s the kind of leadership the coach likes from his seniors.

I believe, like Will Muschamp, Quentin was too hard on himself. I also firmly believe that any game cannot be lost by one single play. Many plays--many decisions--could have resulted in any number of outcomes.

However, admitting the mistake seem to bring a new level of respect toward Quentin. It also challenged others to evaluate their own plays and decisions.

Why is important for leaders to admit their mistakes?
Leaders who admit mistakes:

Finally, in the book Good to Great, Jim Collins describes that leaders of the "great" companies take responsibilities when things are not going well and share the credit when things are going great. In contrast, the leaders of the "good" companies (sometimes companies that eventually become poor companies during the 30 year study period), the leaders blamed outside sources for failures and took much credit when things did go well for the companies.

My favorite quote on mistakes is found in the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie.

When we are right, let’s try to win people gently and tactfully to our way of thinking, and when we are wrong - and that will be surprisingly often, if we are honest with ourselves - let’s admit our mistakes quickly and with enthusiasm. Not only will that technique produce astonishing results; but believe it or not, it is a lot more fun, under the circumstances, than trying to defend oneself.”
The rest of the Quentin Groves story
Quentin missed a few games because of an injury, but was able to tie the sack record during the Louisana State University game.

Quentin Groves has been awarded Bronko Nagurski Trophy, and the Pat Dye Leadership Award Chuck Bednarik Award (to name a few of his recognitions). At the end of the 2006 season, Quentin had the opportunity to play professional football during 2007, but instead he chose to stay at Auburn and finish his final year of eligibility. He finished his undergraduate degree in Fall 2006, and is currently taking graduate classes while playing his last year at Auburn University. Coach Tommy Tuberville describes Quentin as a skinny kid when he came to Auburn, he became a good player, then, became a great player during his college tenure.

We wish him well in his professional football career and wherever his future takes him.


Lynette said...

Thanks for doing so much linking in your posts. I didn't know about the Leadership Development Resource Center (your link for trust and loyalty) and will use the resources, I'm sure.
Happy New Year.
Lynette Spicer

Unknown said...

Thanks Lynette,

It is always nice to see folks find the links and information helpful.

Happy New Year to you, too!