Saban Smiles

Most Saturdays this fall, my family and I watched Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide dismantle their opponents. During the SEC Conference Championship game, victory was at hand, though from Saban’s expression, you would think someone had broken one of Alabama’s national championship trophies. Why so stern in the face of victory I often thought.

From an outsider’s perspective, it’s obvious that when Saban says, “Jump!” His players ask, “How high?” His approach works. So, is the team’s dedication to him a result of his strict leadership and relentless drive, or in spite of it?

We know of CEOs with such intensity and understand that Apple staffers created golden products even though Steve Jobs was said to be intimidating and even insulting. Is this what it takes to truly succeed? Not necessarily.

Celebrating success and demanding success can exist in equilibrium.  A leader must be stern on occasion, but also authentic and forgiving. By setting simple common goals, and working arm-in-arm with the team, leaders share in successes and failures.

Working in the PR industry, here are the three tips on effective leadership I follow everyday.

1. Roll up your sleeves
Stay involved in the work and jump in along with your team; we all entered into this business because we love our craft, so continue to work the nuts and bolts every day.

2. An open door
No question is too small or insignificant; be open and listen fearlessly.

3. Adaptability
Every person on your team responds differently; identify what motivates people to ensure overall team success.

My guess is that Nick Saban shares these same beliefs, and that, at times, he lets his guard down with the team. Still, when Alabama is up by multiple touchdowns with the clock ticking to zero, it sure would be nice to see him smile.

About James Peters

Ketchum clients have trusted this award-winning communications leader for strategic and creative counsel since 2004 when he joined Ketchum in Atlanta. Today, as Director, Ketchum South, Peters uses his 20 years of public relations experience to craft and implement effective communication programming across a variety of industry sectors including energy, technology, retail, and healthcare. Jamey, a graduate of Wake Forest University, has a passion for family and sports. He plays tennis and coaches youth lacrosse and spends many hours cheering for his children’s teams. Follow him @jmpyankees.

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