Changing leadership is never easy

I have been a Ravens fan for quite awhile, and I am glad they finally made this move.  Being an avid sports fan and former DI lacrosse player, I have always tried to take lessons from the sports world into the business world.  This is yet another example that reminds me of working with startups.  At the end, Coach Billick lost control of his team as they lost faith in his strategy and execution.  Sounds like you could replace the name of Coach Billick with startup CEO.

it is never easy whether it be in business or sports but the comment that stands out most for me is that bringing in an Offensive Coordinator for Coach Billick would have been a band-aid.  Companies and teams don’t need band-aids-they need to make the tough decisions.  So if you think your company needs a COO, think deeply about whether or not that is what you need or if you really need a new CEO

Billick’s personality and message had gotten stale, and his lack of discipline contributed to the problems this season.

Before yesterday, the Ravens and Billick had agreed to bring in a new offensive coordinator for the 2008 season, but that would have been a Band-Aid.

It’s hard to justify having two highly paid coordinators running your team. That would have been another indictment of Billick. What was Billick supposed to do? Go to the first 20 minutes of practice and then take a nap?

Billick was on his way to becoming a figurehead, a once-powerful coach who kept losing more control every year since 2005, when Bisciotti publicly reprimanded him.

Billick was working in reverse. Over extended periods of time, great coaches such as Bill Walsh and Bill Parcells gain more power and become general managers and presidents as well as coaches. But Billick’s power base was eroding.
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Published by Ed Sim

founder boldstart ventures, over 20 years experience seeding and leading first rounds in enterprise startups, @boldstartvc, googlization of IT, SaaS 3.0, security, smart data; cherish family time + enjoy lacrosse + hockey

4 comments on “Changing leadership is never easy”

  1. You’ve got visionary leaders and execution leaders. It’s rare that they come in the same body. It’s valuable having one of each near the top.

    In other words, strategy is useless without tactical excellence and tactical excellence is useless in the absence of strong strategies. And at the top, a vision is worthless if you can’t plan a strategy and execute on it. So sometimes, a COO is the right call, so that everyone can focus on what they do best.

    It’s why companies have CTOs and VPs of Engineering. CTO on Vision and Strategy and VPs on Tactical Execution.

  2. David-yes, sometimes it can be the right call to have a COO. My point is that you have to ask yourself if that is what you really need at the company or if you are just making the easy decision. If you don’t correct the problem, adding another person to a dysfunctional team will not get you very far. And sure, as a company grows you need to round out the management team but I would highly caution having too many senior executives in a small startup.

  3. Very true. If you have a dysfunctional team, you need to fire people. There is nobody you can bring in that will fix it.

    The CTO vs VP Engineering analogy was just to be illustrative of the dichotomy of their different roles within an organization (larger than early-stage startup).

    Lastly, firing a coach is different from firing a CEO in one important way. When you fire a CEO, chances are that the company is already down such a bad path that it can’t recover (or it gets totally recapitalized). In football you get a new season with a clean slate.

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