For those of you who don’t know.  I was born in Chicago, was raised in the Chicago suburbs and raised my family in the Chicago suburbs before moving to beautiful Hot Springs Village in Arkansas.  For you football fans out there who watched the Bears lose a heartbreaker to Philadelphia Eagles Sunday Night — well you could imagine how well I took it.

After my wife removed all the sharp objects from the house and I had a night to sleep on the loss I came across this article on Nick Foles — the Philadelphia Eagles backup Quarterback.  To give you a little back story on Nick Foles,  Nick lost his starting job to Carl Wentz a couple of years ago.  Last year, Carl went down with a season ending injury and Nick came in and took the Eagles all the way to winning the Superbowl.  Then again this year, Carl Wentz got his starting job back, the team struggled a bit and a few weeks ago Carl broke his back and is again out—and Nick has taken the Eagles on a winning streak all the way to the playoffs and an incredible last minute win against the Bears in the first round.  This guy has been through the professional ringer yet he still keeps coming back as a true team leader.

The author described Nick Foles actions, both on and off the field, as leadership lessons in emotional intelligence.  After the Eagles victory Sunday night a reporter asked Foles just what was going through his mind during his game-winning drive.  Here was his response:

“What I’ve learned on those stages is just how to calm myself in a chaotic moment, when there’s … a ton of pressure. And just really simplifying in my head. Getting in the huddle, looking at the guys that I trust. Know that it’s all on the line for us and we’re just going to get the job done.”

Foles then summed up the lesson in six simple words:

“It’s just belief in one another.”

Personally, I took two leadership lessons from this quote.  Emotional Intelligence & Trust. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, Emotional Intelligence is defined as the ability to Recognize, Understand and Manage our own emotions, as well as, Recognize, Understand and Influence the emotions of others

In practical terms, this means being aware that emotions can drive our behavior and impact people (positively and negatively) and learning how to manage those emotions — both our own and others — especially when we are under pressure. Depending on your personality make up this can be very easy to do or extremely challenging.

Digital Transformations are VERY HARD WORK!  These often large-scale, global behemoths are very complicated to implement, have hundreds of resources to lead around the world, made up of dozens of teams and thousands of integration points of potential failure.  To lead these types of initiatives is extremely stressful and very chaotic at times. Being able to remain calm through the chaos is an incredible gift to have. For those who are not blessed with that gift, there are ways to learn what it takes to develop your Emotional Intelligence.

You start by going through a self-assessment inventory of what makes you tick and try to pinpoint those triggers that keep you from keeping control of your emotions. Then you go and develop strategies to help you self-regulate those disruptive impulses and moods.

When it comes to other people’s emotional responses, try to demonstrate empathy and understand the emotional makeup of the message.  Then use the correct strategies to properly respond to their message.

Finally, use Emotional Intelligence to manage relationships and build networks. Develop the strategies to help find common ground with individuals or groups in which you may not have a lot in common.

If this subject is of great interest to you, I would highly recommend reading Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry

The second thing I took from Nick Foles’ quote was “Trust”.  Belief that you have your teams back and your team has your back.  I saw that first hand seconds after the Chicago Bears field goal kicker,  Codey Parkey, missed the field goal.  His teammates were there to support him in his moment of greatest need.

As a leader of a Digital Transformation Implementation Leader you need to build trust with your team. I found a great way to build trust is by first giving trust.  It is kind of like those trust falls you hear about and see on television where someone falls backwards and trusts their compatriots to catch them before they hit the ground.

Be the person to take the fall first.

Be candid about yourself.  Share one of your greatest accomplishments that you are very proud of, as well as, one of your most abysmal professional failures that comes with a key learning lesson. This will show your vulnerability which is a key component to building trusting relationships.

Establish an environment of trust and protection so that your team can work outside their comfort zone because they know they have a safety net in you. This will allow them to make the tough decision when needed and take on additional risks because they know you have their backs.

In closing, I wish the Eagles, and Nick Foles, all the best during their playoff run this year—but I still wish it was the Bears instead!

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