Last night gave us a great game between two storied NFL franchises: the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers. 

The game truly came down to the wire: With the score tied, no timeouts, and less than a minute to go, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers did what he does best--he marched his team down the field and set up kicker Mason Crosby for a game-winning field goal.

But while Rodgers' demonstrated great leadership in these last-minute heroics, the leadership lesson actually began last week--following the Packers' loss to conference rivals the Detroit Lions.

There were lots of mistakes in that game, but it was a complete disaster for Crosby, who missed four field goals and an extra point attempt. (That hadn't happened in almost 40 years, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.)

Especially interesting, though, was Rodgers' reaction to it all. Instead of showing anger or frustration, Rodgers consoled and comforted the kicker. 

Those actions added weight to Rodgers' words in his postgame interview. When asked about Crosby's performance, Rodgers summed up his feelings in a single, powerful sentence: 

"He had a bad day today, but we still believe in him 100 percent."

A powerful message delivered in just seven words:

We still believe in him 100 percent.

The rest of the Packers backed up this statement, encouraging Crosby in practice and in the locker room over the past week. In a radio interview earlier in the week, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said the following: "I personally have great confidence in Mason [Crosby] and I think he'll pull through this."

Of course, Crosby more than pulled through. Not only did he make all seven of his kick attempts (including a 51-yarder), he stayed calm under pressure as he delivered the game winner.

CBS Sports put out a nice tweet comparing the two weeks:

Mason Crosby last week vs. Lions: 1/5 FG, 0/1 XP Packers lose by 8 points 

Mason Crosby vs. 49ers 4/4 FG, 3/3 XP AND A GAME-WINNER!!!

Immediately following the game-winning kick, Crosby was mobbed by his teammates. In an interview a few minutes later, Crosby was effusive in praising them for all their support.

"I can't say much," Crosby told ESPN reporter Lisa Salters. "I'm kind of broken up about it. My teammates, I mean it's unreal: this sport, this week and the guys in the locker room. We just stick together."

This situation teaches us a lot about what leadership looks like. Yes, it includes delivering in the clutch, as both Rodgers and Crosby did last night.

But equally important--if not more so--is what happens in those moments when things don't go well. When your teammate has a bad day, or a bad week. 

These are the opportunities team leads and managers have to help their people the most. To use emotional intelligence to encourage and build up, rather than dishearten and tear down.

To show that, even when they're at their worst, you've still got their back.

So, ask yourself:

How do I react when a member of my team makes a major mistake?

Take a page out of the Packers' playbook, and lift them up. If you do, you'll put them in a position to succeed the next time--and that increases your team's chance at success, too.

Published on: Oct 16, 2018
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