Leadership Experiences – What a Trip to a Football Game Taught Me About Managing People

I love football. I love the team component and how teams must work together to succeed. I also like the individual player side of the sport. Football demands that each athlete continue to improve their own individual performance. As far as individual performers there was none better than Super Bowl Champion and Hall of Famer Michael Irvin.

After having much success on the field, Michael Irvin has now gone on to fame as an announcer and football analyst with the NFL network.

I took my son to a Thursday night game in which the NFL network was broadcasting. As the game concluded, Michael Irvin made onto the sideline to prepare for the after game analysis. Then with 1:53 left in the game Michael Irvin did the unexpected and the unanticipated. He noticed a few fathers and sons in the front row of the stands. He wanted to thank us for bringing our sons to the game and encourage us to continue to be great fathers. So he found a box and climb into the stands to take pictures with our sons and us. You can see his tweet here.

This unexpected experience taught me a few great reminders about leadership.

What Super Bowl Champion Michael Irvin Taught Me About Leadership: 

 1. The Best Leaders Look into the Stands

Michael Irvin was paid to do a job. He was there to announce the game. No one would have thought less of him had he just focused on the job that he to complete. Leaders’ always have tasks to complete. What separates the good leaders from the great leaders is that great leaders’ take to look into the stands to see they can encourage and help. They focus on people while they are completing their tasks and responsibilities.

Coaching Question: When is the last time that you noticed someone in your organization in an unexpected and rememberable way? 

2. Great Leaders Encourage what They Want to be Replicated

Michael Irvin was on a mission. He has a passion to encourage fathers’ to be great dads. He understands the value of fathers. If you look through his Twitter page, you can see that he has hundreds of pictures with fathers and their sons. To this is a personal mission. He understands that he must encourage what he values. All leaders’ are on a mission. They have a vision of what they want to see accomplished. Therefore, they need to take time out of their schedule to encourage what they what repeated. The encouragement of leader can make the difference in the life of their followers.

Coaching Question: Would your team say that you are a good encourager?

3. Good Leaders Go the Second Mile

Michael Irvin made his action unforgettable by pausing to take a picture. He could have just paused to give a word of encouragement. Michael went a step further. He went the second mile. He took pictures and put those pictures on his twitter feed. This behavior is a great lesson for every leader to learn. Great leaders’ go the second mile with their people. They do the unexpected and the unanticipated.

Coaching Question: How could you make your interactions with your people an experience?

Tonight a new Super Bowl Champion team will be crowned. Michael Irvin will always be a Super Bowl Champion, and this short interaction shows why he is also a champion in life. This interaction took all of about 3 minutes of his time, but the impact is something that and my son will always remember. What is interesting is that every leader has the same power to make an impact in the lives of the people that follow them. Maybe, every leader can be someone’s Super Bowl Champion.

12 Biblical Principles on which to Build a Business​

Business leaders often wonder where they can find the best business advice and counsel in order to build their business. Although good business counsel can be found in a plethora of books, there is only one book that contains all of the best business secrets that business leaders need to know to build a successful business and life. That sacred book is the Bible. I have studied the Bible for years and have often read the words for encouragement, consolation, improvement, and inspiration. I have also found that it contains the best principles in order to build a successful business.

Principle #1 – Develop A Second Mile Mentality

A principle that is helpful in building a life and building a business is going the second mile. Good businesses develop a second-mile mentality. Jesus himself gives this principle in Matthew 5:41. The New Century Version records the statement as, “If someone forces you to go with him one mile, go with him two miles.” Jesus gives this principle to his followers as a way from them to themselves from the culture in which they were living for the purpose of helping others to see Him more clearly. In business, we also have the need to separate ourselves so that others can see our business more clearly. Every business would be wise to cultivate a second-mile mentality throughout their business.

Too many businesses are expecting second-mile results without giving second-mile service. Ken Gosnell

Principle #2 – Practice The Golden Rule

A tremendous Biblical Principle on which to build a business is found in Luke 6:31. This verse, which has been coined the Golden Rule, states that we should “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Many great businesses have been built on this one biblical principle. In fact, J.C. Penny used just this one principle to start and grow his business into a thriving corporation. He once was quoted as having said, “I cannot remember a time when the Golden Rule was not my motto and precept, the torch that guided my footsteps.” The concept is to consider others first. The wise business leader and business will always treat others as they themselves would like to be treated.

Principle #3 – Trust God’s Plan and Principles

A principle that has shaped many businesses and business leaders is Proverbs 3:5,6. Leaders in businesses are called upon to make many decisions. A leader must set the direction and the path of a business to ensure its growth and development. In business the opportunities are endless. Leaders must know their core and where to find the inspiration for their vision and their decisions. For Christian leaders, this wisdom is found in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs states, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” Trust is essential in business. Customers must trust the product. The leader must trust their people. Teams must trust each other and the wise business owner will trust the Lord.

Principle #4 – Find Reliable People

A principle that has shaped many businesses and business leaders is 2 Timothy 2:2. People can either make or break a business. Finding the right kind of people to add to an organization is essential to the success of the organization. Paul gives some amazing wisdom to his young mentee when he states in 2 Timothy 2:2, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” This key principle is helpful in identifying key talent and building the right kind of culture to grow a successful business. The words in this verse should be considered as a reference to mankind as every company needs both reliable and faithful men and women in order to be successful.

Principle #5 – Be A Steward, Not An Owner

An important shift for Christian business owners is moving from ownership to stewardship. Jesus told a story in Matthew about a faithful servant. He ends the story in Matthew 25:23 with these words, “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'” Well Done, those two words are two of the most powerful words in the English language. It should be the desire of every Christian business owner to hear these words at the end of their journey.

Principle #6 – Practice Excellence

Building a business on Biblical principles requires a change of perspective. One key perspective that is essential for Christian leaders is to practice excellence at all times and in all situations. The apostle Paul wrote these critical words in Colossians 3:23,24. He said “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Paul was reminding Christian leaders of the higher call that is their lives. Christians are not called just to do work that is average, but rather Christians are called to do all of their work with excellence in a way that honors God.

Principle #7 – Grow Profit With A Purpose

Every successful business creates profits. It is often quoted in business circles that you really don’t have a business until you have a profit. In fact, every business has been created and designed to create a profit. But Christian leaders understand that the wrong profit can be damaging. A biblical principle that Christian leaders must follow is to build businesses that have a profit with a purpose. Jesus asked his followers in Mark 8:36 “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” This verse teaches a powerful principle that every Christian leader should follow.

Principle #8 – Listen To Many Advisors

Proverbs 15:22 states, “Where there are many advisors, there is much success.” The wisdom of others can be powerful. Every great leader in the Bible had at least one advisor. However, many business leaders try to do things all on their own. In fact, it is often said that it is lonely at the top. It is only lonely at the top if you are doing it wrong. Christian leaders believe in the power of others.

Principle #9 – Build On Solid Ground

A key to building a great business is acting with integrity. Integrity means doing the right thing in all situations at all times. Martin Luther King Jr. taught that “The time is always right to do what is right.” He might have taken his inspiration from the words of Proverbs 4:25-27 where the Bible teaches, “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.  26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.  27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” Businesses that are built on integrity are built on the solid foundation to last generations. Businesses that lack integrity are on a slippery ground that can crumble at any time.

Principle #10 – Use The Gifts Of Your Team

A fundamental principle that is helpful in business is Ephesians 2:10 which states, “You are God’s workmanship who has been created to do good works that God has prepared in advance.” The power of this principle is both profound and amazing. This verse reminds the Christian business leader that they have been formed with a purpose. In fact, not only have they been formed with a purpose, every person on their team has been formed with a purpose.

Principle #11 – Understand the Law of Sowing and Reaping

Many successful businesses have been built on the principle of sowing and reaping. In 2 Corinthians 9:6 the Bible states that “the point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” The New Living Translation of the Bible records this principle with these words. “Remember this – a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.” Another part of the Bible reminds the readers that we will reap what we sow.

Principle #12 – Focus On First Things

In Matthew 6:33 Jesus gave his followers a powerful principle to follow. Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” The first three words of this verse are very instructive. Those words are “but seek first.” A great principle to practice in business is to focus on first things. When a leader understands the order of things, things can become easier to understand.

When a leader understands the order of things, things can become easier to understand.


Ken Gosnell is CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience). He serves leaders by helping them to have great experiences that both transform them and their organizations that enable to go further faster. He has worked with hundreds of CEOS and their leadership teams to enhance their strategic, operational and people accomplishments. He is an author, coach, and strategic partner with CEOs. He is married to Shonda, and they have four children. You can connect with him at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kengosnell/

He has also created the CEO Experience Impact Assessment. This assessment helps leaders learn the areas of their leader that they must improve to go forward. Get your score by taking the assessment here.