Sporting Leadership: Mark Cuban vs Jerry Jones

Cuban and Jones HugWhen I think of professional sports and leadership, two Dallas owners come to mind: Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones.  Just like the state of Texas, both men have big, bold personalities.  Cuban and Jones are also known for winning and taking their teams to the next level of success.  These two leaders have taken different paths to make their teams great.  Here are just a few examples of what they have done; both good and bad.

Jerry Jones: The Micromanaging Visionary

When Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys back in 1989, he had a vision, that led to an unpopular decision.  He fired longtime head coach Tom Landry and replaced him with Jimmy Johnson.  Though fans didn’t understand it at the time, this decision allowed Jones to start fresh and put together a coaching and administrative staff that would follow his vision.  Jones was very hands on and the combination of him and Coach Johnson led to great draft picks and all-star players.  By having the team follow his vision and running on all cylinders, the Dallas Cowboys won two back to back Super Bowls (XXVII and XXVIII) and won Super Bowl XXX.

Micromanage Pitfall

jerry_jones_sideline

“…any one of 500 coaches could have won those Super Bowls”

Jones created a winning dynasty in Dallas.  He had the right players with Troy Aikman and Emmett Smith.  He had the right coach with Johnson.  What happened that caused the dynasty to collapse in Dallas?

Micromanagement.

When things started going wrong with his coach, he started roaming around the sidelines questioning everything.  He eventually pushed out Coach Jimmy Johnson, the man who helped execute the vision of the team’s success.  Though the Cowboys won a Super Bowl without Coach Johnson, they slowly started running downhill and haven’t truly recovered since then.

Cuban: The Passionate Instigator

Casual CubanMark Cuban became the majority stakeholder of the Dallas Mavericks in 2000.  Before that time, the team had a losing record (40% games won) and was swimming in a sea of mediocrity.  With his drive for winning, Cuban has been able to turn this team around and they keep showing up in the NBA finals.  In 2011, the team won their first by NBA Championship by dethroning “King” James and the heralded Miami Heat.

Standing Out from the Crowd

“Wherever I see people doing something the way it’s always been done, the way it’s ‘supposed’ to be done, following the same old trends, well, that’s just a big red flag to me to go look somewhere else.”

Mark Cuban has never blended in with a group; which has led to his success.  For example, Cuban realized to get the right players  he had to recruit in a different way.  One of those ways had to do with the locker room.  The Dallas Mavericks have one of the most expensive elaborate locker rooms in all of professional sports.  While others questioned why would spend so much money on a locker room, he was busy using this as a recruitment and retention tool.

Not blending in has also caused Cuban to create unneeded controversy, including his most recent comments that led to him apologizing to the family of Trayvon Martin.

IMG_4005-419x314Both Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban are passionate about their businesses and their teams.  This passion has led to success in their respected fields.  There isn’t anyone who can say that Jerry Jones has not lived up to the vision he has had with the Cowboys.  The same can be said about Cuban when it comes to inspiring people to live up to their fullest potential.

Which owner would you categorize yourself as the most?

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Tactics vs. Strategy

Chess and PeopleI recently finished my last year of the American Bankers Association’s School of Bank Marketing and Management and had the honor of graduating with a great group of bankers from all walks of life.  There are several topics and schools of thought that are still running through my mind, but one concept has been lingering in the forefront: Tactics vs. Strategy.

When I talk about marketing with someone, usually tactics often get confused for strategy.  The biggest example I hear is:

What email strategies are you using?

Using email to get your message out and sell a certain product or services is a great tool, but it should not be considered a strategy.

Two other tactics that often get confused with strategy are social media and online advertising.  These three tactics are the latest communication tools business are using to market their companies to existing customers and prospects, but it is a shame that they are being confused with strategy.

Tactics Before Strategy

Years ago, I worked with someone who believed our bank needed to be on Facebook.  I didn’t fully disagree with him, but when I asked him why, his answer was,

Everyone is on it.

Now I don’t know what kind of childhood you had, but when I heard this, I wanted to answer with what my mother use to say:

If everyone decided to jump off a bridge, would you?

But instead of being snarky, I started a conversation with him by asking, what would we post on Facebook.  After the conversation, he realized our bank wasn’t positioned to be on Facebook and he never asked the question again.  Don’t get me wrong, his heart was in the right place, but he wanted to start a tactic without even thinking about an objective or strategy.

What is Strategy?

In its simplest form, a strategy is a plan to bring about a result.  For example, if your bank needs to raise deposits and decides the best way to do this is by increasing the number of checking accounts, you create a strategy to bring in more checking account customers.  That is the beginning level of the strategy.  You then start breaking down the steps of the strategy

  • Dollar Amount Goal
  • What type of Checking Accounts
  • Target Market
  • Budget
  • Tactics to Attract Target Market

The list can go on and on, but eventually leads to what type of tactics you will use to obtain your goal.

What’s More Important: Strategy or Tactic?

Tactics need strategy and strategy needs tactics.  Tactics are the actions you take to put your strategy to life and reach your goal.

Ever work with someone who says they are an “ideas man”?  Drives me crazy when I hear that.  Ideas are great, but without action, they’re nothing.  Sun Tzu put it best when he said:

Sun QuoteThink of it this way, as much effort that you put in thinking out your strategy, you need to put that much effort into your tactics.  Phoning in a tactic will not produce the same results in the amount of time as a fully thought out tactic.

Have you ever had to explain the difference between strategy and tactics to someone?  What examples did you use when communicating the differences?

 

 

7 Centimeters Vs. 13.1 Miles

Measuring TapeAt the beginning of the year, I began a weight loss program that was fueled by a “biggest loser competition” and training for a half-marathon.  The good news is that I won the competition, but the bad news was that I was unable to run the half-marathon due to a nagging injury.  Though I would like to speak more on the victory, this post will focus on the latter and how one small detail can derail big plans.

The injury occurred while completing a run 10 days before the half-marathon.  After the run, my right calf was in extreme pain, to the point it was hard to put weight on it.  After checking with my doctor and two physical therapist, the answer was a little surprising: my left foot was over 7 centimeters shorter than my right foot which caused an overcompensation in the right leg when running.  While training for long distance running, the overcompensation got the best of my calf causing it to be over used and extended.  Fortunately I worked with a fantastic physical therapist (Dean Douglas and his team at Provision Therapy) and am back to my regular distance while improving my overall pace.  With this experience, I was able to take away some points that can be applied to work and life.

Details, Details, Details

devil-details-cartoonEver have a great idea and have it fall apart over one little detail?  Well, that’s what happened to my training.  I’ve also had this happen with projects at work and situations in my life.  I’m sure everyone has run into this problem at one point and has heard the old saying:

The devil is in the details.

How to resolve this?

  • Learn from your mistakes: The best advice I received early in my career was from my mentor Dick Prince.  When I made a big mistake during my first year in banking, Dick could have given me a hard time.  As a member of the Bank’s HR department, he could have easily fired me.  At the very least, he could have lectured me for hours but instead, he asked me what I had learned from the mistake.  After spending a few minutes explaining what had went wrong and how it could have been avoided, I walked away knowing the mistake wouldn’t happen again.
  • Ask for Help: Is asking for help something you struggle with?  It took me a long time to realize that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, in fact it shows you are smart enough to know your faults. When it comes to a work project, I have a detailed-oriented person I know and trust review any important work that will have a lasting impact.  I encourage them to pick apart the entire project, and am ready to handle any criticism.

 

Balancing Act

imagesBecause there is a difference in height with my legs, my body is out of balance.  It wasn’t until I started performing balance exercises that I realized how out of balance my body was.  Fortunately no one was around to video my balancing training.

Balance in life is just as important.  Not being focused on the job can lead to a termination; but being so focused on work to the point of neglecting your family can lead to divorce.  Instead of thinking about juggling, think about integration.

Juggling vs Integration

People often think of time management as juggling which often leads to conflict.  This conflict causes an internal struggle of deciding what should be more important in your life.  Instead of thinking of it as choosing one over the other in a battle of supremacy, think about how each positively balances the other.  This type of perception eliminates any negative tendencies and instead focuses on how different aspects of your life complement your total well-being.

Closing the Gap

By keeping an eye on the details and living a balanced life, you will be able to close any gaps in your life.  This will, in turn, help you conquer tough challenges and uncover new opportunities.

Hopefully you have found this post insightful and entertaining.  Again, big props to Provision Therapy.  Check them out at www.provisiontherapy.com or find them on Facebook.

What mistakes have you experienced in life that you have walked away from knowing you won’t make again?

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