Learning from mistakes is crucial--but it's a lot less painful when you learn from the mistakes of others.
Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, has made plenty of fumbles in his tenure. It's gotten to the point that there is considerable pressure for him to resign (although many doubt it will happen) because of the league's ongoing domestic abuse and discipline problems. Any savvy entrepreneur will tell you it's better to digest tough lessons that others experience than to take the fall personally. But it doesn't matter if you love football or don't even watch the Super Bowl. Here are some top business mistakes to avoid, compliments of Goodell.
1) 2012-13 Pro Bowl Threats
Goodell sometimes appears to think that chastising players will improve morale. When Goodell became furious at the subpar quality of play at the 2012 Pro Bowl, he threatened to cancel the 2013 edition of the event. In one of several outbursts, he said it seemed the players cared more about avoiding injury than playing the best game possible. That threat wasn't carried out, which is another issue. Was it an actual threat in the first place or was he just flapping his lips? A steady business leader doesn't make idle threats.
2) Missing Out on Growth Potential
Some businesses grow too fast and some too slow, but only a special few grow just right. Los Angeles may be a big reason that the NFL is not in that final, select group of organizations. Many NFL fans are at a loss as to why L.A. still doesn't have a pro team since the Rams and Raiders left in the mid-1990s. Of course, when you're talking about L.A., there are always bureaucratic problems, but there's no denying the situation reflects badly on Goodell, too. Many NFL owners are openly unhappy they aren't making licensing and sponsorship dollars from the country's second-largest media market. When it comes down to it, the NFL is missing a huge opportunity under Goodell's watch.
3) Being a Buzzkill
Arguably one of the worst things Goodell has done is take even small touchdown celebrations out of the mix. When he nixed those short, flamboyant celebrations--which many felt were a funny, harmless highlight of a game--it felt a little like he wasn't allowing office birthdays. Celebrating achievements is vital to the camaraderie of most work teams, especially when they cost you nothing and don't take much time.
4) Acting As Judge and Jury
Some feel that Goodell's lead role in deciding fines, suspending players, and the like has taken fairness out of the equation. Entrepreneurs find themselves in similar situations, especially early in the life of the startup, because they sometimes must terminate or suspend employees without much warning. Make sure to keep a level head as you determine best measures for punishing employees who have made mistakes or are not performing up to snuff.
5) Hiring People Who Aren't Qualified
If you don't have someone appropriate to hire, don't hire anyone at all. The 2012 game between the Packers and Seahawks, which occurred during a referee labor dispute, enraged fans--largely because Goodell hired substitute referees. The entire game's integrity was called into question, which had Goodell scrambling to bring back seasoned refs. A good lesson to learn from this Goodell snafu is, "Hire smart or not at all."
The business of football is still a business (even though it somehow is still officially considered a nonprofit). That's why there's so much to learn from Goodell. If a leader appears to lack integrity or a clear sense of vision, you know you're headed down the wrong path. Any entrepreneur should remember that there is always a "game" at play, whether you're a beginner or a corporate CEO. Are you prepared to win?