To this point, coverage of Super Bowl XLIX has essentially centered on "Deflategate." And while I understand the fuss, I do think there's an opportunity to discuss something other than air pressure in the week leading up to the game.
The Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots are historically good teams. Coach Bill Belichick has taken the Patriots to six Super Bowls in 14 years and will be playing for his fourth win. Seattle coach Pete Carroll won two national championships at the University of Southern California before leading the Seahawks to a Super Bowl win over the Broncos last year. Beating the Patriots on Sunday would make Seattle the first back-to-back champ since, that's right, Belichick's 2003 and 2004 Patriots.
Most coaches never attain this level of success, much less sustain it over long periods. To do this in the NFL, it takes the effort of a dedicated team built on passion and trust. Belichick and Carroll undoubtedly go about building this trust in very different ways; their styles could not appear more different, even to the casual observer.
Coach Belichick comes across as stoic and gruff; speaks in monotone, if at all; and famously wears a gray hoodie on the sideline. His decisions appear calculated, he appears to be in control of every detail (except, apparently, game balls), and the Patriots are a methodical masterpiece on the field characterized by precision and execution.
Coach Carroll is the "player's coach." He's a social, loving, pat-you-on-the-back kind of coach with a built-in smile. He relies on relationships, delegation, and an inherent understanding of people. The Seahawks' players frequently say they see themselves as a family, and their cohesive play on the field reflects that.
The point here is that two vastly different leadership styles have produced equally remarkable results--there's no single "right way" to be a leader, whether we're talking about a football team or any other organization.
So how do Belichick and Carroll do it? In my estimation, it has everything to do with their ability to set an organizational vision and build the trust among the players and coaches that success will follow if they carry it out. If you listen to player interviews, they often state that their coach inspires them to greatness, despite any differences in personality.
Both coaches are authentic to who they are, and motivate their personnel using their unique personality strengths. Any leader who does this is off on the right foot to earning his or her employees' trust, and this trust is paramount when the team is successful and also when the team feels a bit deflated. Clearly, leadership is so much more than just X's and O's.
Enjoy the game and the guacamole. My official prediction: Seattle wins, 27-23.