Keen Eye, Good Choices
Leaders in all sectors can learn a great deal from Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt on guiding under-performing men and women to new levels of performance. Whisenhunt has shown us how to 1) pick a talented leader; 2) coach that leader effectively; and 3) surround the leader with great talent and then give them a plan that helps them get better each week.
It's obvious to everyone now that Kurt Warner is still a top performer in the NFL. But Whisenhunt gave Warner a chance that many other coaches would not have. How did he do it? First, he looked at Warner's track record. It was spotty at points but extremely impressive at others. Here's a guy who early in his career had been a Pro Bowl quarterback and Super Bowl MVP. More than that, Warner was also regarded by fellow players as a real leader, someone who commanded attention and respect. So Whisenhunt knew Warner had a proven track record and considerable talent even if he hadn't lived up to it for several seasons.
Then Whisenhunt took a second critical step - understanding what had held back Warner's performance in recent years. Apart from a string of injuries, Warner was prone, in Whisenhunt's estimation, to committing too many turnovers and getting sacked too often. He told Warner point blank that he needed to improve in those areas if he hoped to win the starting quarterback job with the Cardinals. Whisenhunt knew Warner is a very coachable player, a guy who likes to learn and challenge himself. So it's not a surprise that Warner took his advice seriously and made protecting the football a top priority this season. He ended up with 30 touchdown passes against just 14 interceptions.
Finally, Whisenhunt put some great talent around Warner. He understood that even the greatest leader in the world can't win consistently without talented teammates. So the Cardinals gave Warner a squad of talented wide receivers and a rebuilt offensive line that helped improve the running game and gave him time to make good decisions and good throws. As he should, Warner frequently gives his teammates credit for his stunning success this year.
On paper, the Cardinals really have no business being in the Super Bowl. But that's where they are - and many more gifted squads and athletes in the NFL will be sitting home watching. The credit ultimately goes to Whisenhunt who built this group into a winning team - and leaders everywhere would be wise to borrow from his playbook.
Posted by: cgil | January 28, 2009 1:43 PM
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Posted by: Samson151 | January 28, 2009 2:49 AM
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