People Skills Important to Leadership

I read an article recently about the recruitment of Marc Trestman to be the head coach of the Chicago Bears.

Trestman has been a National Football League coach for many years. He got an early start and was known as an offensive “genius” who tutored quarterbacks particularly well.

He longed for an opportunity to be a head coach but was consistently passed over. It seemed when he was interviewed, he gave the distinct impression he knew how an offense worked but left some doubt about whether he was a leader.

Eventually, he left the NFL to take a head coaching job in the Canadian Football League for the Montreal Alouettes. He essentially remade himself into the coach that folks were looking for in the NFL. While doing so, his team won two championships.

Following his selection in Chicago, people close to the selection revealed this about the process:

“During his job interview, Trestman didn’t talk about X’s and O’s or calling plays. He talked about leadership, teaching life skills, making the locker room an environment of respect and clarity, and his newly adopted ‘servant mentality.’”

Trestman was once about X’s and O’s. He liked the strategic game day opportunities of calling plays. But, until he realized he had to move on to other elements of the game, he was never going to be selected.

Most of us start in a job because of a specific area of expertise. But, the more leadership you assume, the more the job becomes about the people.

You will never do a worse job by striving to improve your people skills.