For football fans everywhere, but especially in Denver, the last two weeks have been a suspenseful ones. With Peyton Manning jetting around the country to be courted by general managers, coaches and potential teammates, all those in Broncos Country were keeping up with every article, post and tweet about what the future might hold for their team. Would the Broncos land the Super Bowl-winning yet injured star quarterback? And if so, what would happen to the celebrated young player that brought so much excitement to last season?
Those questions are answered now. I’ll reserve judgment, because for the Broncos management this was not an easy decision to make. In many ways, NFL teams are a good mirror of the corporate world. Sports metaphors in business might be cliché, but they are at times the best and simplest way to communicate fundamental truths. In this case, just as every team needs the right player for each position, so does your company.
That choice might be a difficult one to make. An ambitious, well-liked player with the right attitude and drive might not be able to take you to the Super Bowl or even the playoffs, for that matter. A veteran player that has led the team through many seasons may no longer be a good starting match-up against the opposing team. In business, just like in football, having the right person in the right role at the right time is critical.
Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great,” captured this business fundamental well. In order to be a great company, you must have the right people on the bus, sitting in the right seats. Conversely, the wrong people need to get off of the bus. In a company that is constantly evolving, which all companies should be doing, the right person for the bus is likely to change over time. Sometimes a person must switch seats and other times it’s best for that person to get off the bus–and in the finest cases they end up driving their own shiny, new bus that they will eventually fill with the right people too.
Keeping the wrong people on the bus or the wrong players on your team isn’t fair to anyone–the employee, coworkers and company or the player, fans and teammates will all suffer. It’s usually never an easy decision, but it’s the right one.
For the Broncos organization, signing Manning maybe wasn’t a hard decision. For the fans, there is a bit of excitement mixed with fear or confusion. Will Manning be ready and injury-free by the season opener? Who will be back-up, as Tim Tebow leaves the Broncos’ bus and jumps on a new one–a jet actually? Fans will have to trust that John Elway and crew are making the best decision for the team, just as employees will have to trust that decisions made by management, executives and owners will be best for all parties in the long run.