“I was attracted to the vision that [coaches] had for us,” he said, noting that the best coaches can see what players are capable of doing and how teams can get to that place if everybody’s on board. “Being a visionary really inspires people. It endears everybody to stay committed to what that agenda or that task happens to be.”
Manning added that leaders can have different styles, whether by being vocal or leading by example, “and both are effective.”
Being the ‘Ultimate Teammate’
In a game where success is measured in yards, Manning acknowledged that no one has a monopoly on good ideas.
Sharing another anecdote from his football days, Manning recalled a teammate spotting an opportunity in their team’s defense. The player’s suggestion prompted the quarterback to switch up the plan to make a successful play.
“And after that play, I’m telling you that receiver would run through a wall for me because I took his input and implemented it into our game plan—and that's part of being a leader,” Manning said.
It’s at least part of the reason his colleagues have often referred to him as “the ultimate teammate.”
“You’ve got to be a good listener. You have to be able to admit that you don’t have all the answers. You’ve got to ask a lot of questions,” Manning added.
Fitzgerald suggested that members of younger generations who were raised in the information age require leaders who have strong listening skills.
“Data and technology have really changed the paradigm,” he said. “Younger people are now able to question why things are happening: ‘Why do we need to do it this way? Can we change this? I think it's better, it's more effective, to do it this way.’ And I think they can find ways to [use] data and technology to be able to support that thesis, and this helps move things along at a much faster pace.”