Monday, December 27, 2010

A Good Man Does Not a Good Leader Make

Yesterday Mike Singletary was fired as the head football coach of the San Francisco 49ers. But I am not surprised.

I have been watching the Singletary coaching saga since his head coaching career began. I have always been a fan of his and believe him to be a kind and caring human being. However, from all accounts, he had a serious problem projecting his sincerity to the very people he was entrusted to lead.

Singletary is obviously old school—meaning a student of the traditional top down model of leadership—a model that no longer works in the 21st Century. We are now living in the Age of the Millennials (born 1982-1998) and this new generation coming into today’s workforce doesn’t “cotton (can’t stand)” too well to tirades and put downs for motivation.Singletary seems to be a good man. According to Wikipedia (I know I am not supposed to cite Wiki), Singletary “has authored three books…owns a car dealership…and he and his wife, Kim, have seven children. He said all the right things and tried to do all the right things but it was the way he said them and the way he did them that cost him his job.

In a different era, Mike Singletary quite possibly could have been considered a great leader but eras change and so do the people who live in them. The great leaders are in touch with their times. It is unfortunate that Singletary was not.


  1. "The great leaders are in touch with their times." That comment says it all. However, there is a way to achieve success or objectives while still being "old school". If you are allowed to find a choose all of your own people and get rid of the ones that don't buy in! But in professional sports, what coach is allowed to do that? There has to be buy-in from the GM and owners. Most of the time, they are just not that patient.

    I will have to do a look at former great players who became great coaches. I will say that Jerry Sloan is still very much old school, but he still hasn't won a championship. He does have the buy-in from the GM ad owners and they pick certain type of players. This is a very unique situation.

  2. Mr. Smith, you are correct. Old school leaders do exist and Singletary's situation is unique because his style of leadership is waning. The old school leader's numbers in positions of authority these days are low.

    Thank you for responding.

  3. Kelvin, I do agree. I think Singletary is a great guy and I think he will learn from this experience. If he gets another chance I think he will fare better. Many of the players he is dealing with did not have male authority figures, so their motivation comes from somewhere else. Singletary did not take the time to find that motivation, he led like he was led. This is similar in the workplace, people are promoted to leadership roles and their only leadership training is from how they where led. As you know that is not always successful.

    Terry Lee

  4. "Led like he was led." I couldn't have said it better. Thanks for responding, Terry.

  5. It will be interesting to see if he is willing to re-evaluate his style and adapt it to today's players. I think he says AND does all the right things, but brings it in the wrong package. I think you are exactly right here. I am learning the same things in my new positions. Here is my question, when you step back and realize you need to make a change, but you still coach (manage) the same people (for the most part) how do you make those changes without losing some of your authority. In other words, "How do you change without them winning?"