Leadership Lessons From Football

The intersection of greatness - lessons from football greats applied to business and recruiting. 

By: Bill Hampton      Read it in 5 minutes 
Spartan Capital Group Recruiting Blog Post How To Show UpD aily

Leading a successful company to grow on a national scale for 13 years, I learned a lot about business, best practices, and made a few missteps too. I would like to share some of the top career tips I learned with the recruiting industry.


When I consider any business, I often look for common denominators of success. As a sports fan, one place I am drawn to for inspiration on career tips, leadership, and success principles related to business is the experience of successful coaches.


My team is the University of Tennessee Volunteers. Having lived in the Nashville area since the ’90s. I decided when my first daughter was born to switch my allegiance from Michigan (my birth state)  to Tennessee so there would be no doubt which team our family should root for. Go Vols!


As a college football fan, I was so thankful that teams across the nation were found a way to compete despite the global pandemic. Watching them overcome this adversity reaffirmed my belief that there is much we can learn from football coaches. Among these things is their attention to detail, managing of assistants, inspiring players, casting vision, proper preparation, recruiting, etc.


The University of Tennessee Volunteer has had its share of coaching challenges but this decade has given us few bright spots. Considering our recent run of mediocre seasons, I think one would be wise to install the pre-game ritual of reciting  “General Neyland’s Maxims”. Neyland is often referred to as one of the best, if not the best, defensive football coaches ever. When someone is considered, “the best” I pay attention to what they believe. Written in the 1930s, these maxims summarized what “The General” felt it took to win a football game. 


The 7 Maxims of Football


  1. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.
  2. Play for and make the breaks and when one comes your way – SCORE.
  3. If at first the game – or the breaks – go against you, don't let up... put on more steam.
  4. Protect our kickers, our QB, our lead, and our ball game.
  5. Ball, oskie, cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and tackle... for this is the WINNING EDGE.
  6. Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made.
  7. Carry the fight to our opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes.


Now, I know the recruiting business is not a football game. To be completely honest, I’m not sure what an “oskie” is. However, I do know that “The General” was on to something here. He knew that in order to consistently win, his team must know what it took to win a game and they had to be reminded of it daily. In business, it is no different. Whether you call them "maxims" or "career tips," it is important to be reminded of what it takes to win. 


So, let me ask you the following question: As you lead your teams and build your business, what are you doing on a daily basis to ensure your success? 


As I’ve spoken to others in the recruiting industry about what they are working on daily to win, here is what I am hearing:


  1. Learn more from each other. We are all in this together. Yes, there is competition and yes, many times we bump into each other. However, as Rabbi Daniel Lapin says, “You can view success as a pie, where when someone takes a piece there is less for you. Or, you can view it as a candle. If you light your candle from my candle, it doesn’t steal my light. It adds more!” Let’s learn from each other. There are some really smart minds in our industry and there is a tremendous benefit to getting to know them.
  2. Investing more in the team. Don’t just have “employees.” Employees work to collect a paycheck. Conversely, team members work towards a common goal. They are part of something bigger than themselves. Team members have each other’s backs. Your team spends a lot of time together and they’re working hard for your company. Work daily to make sure they know that you are in this together, that you appreciate them, and that you’re there for them.
  3. Building a great culture. Good people are now deciding where to work based, in large part, on the culture you’ve created.  As a recent article in Entrepreneur magazine quoted, “It’s not that company culture was ever unimportant, but it’s quickly proving to be a ‘must-have’ rather than a ‘nice-to-have’.” Work daily to build a culture that your team members are proud of.
  4. Personal Growth. Leadership guru John Maxwell states, “Your leadership ability —for better or for worse— always determines your effectiveness and the potential impact of your organization.” Begin to make it a routine habit to pour into yourself. Read. Listen to podcasts. Talk to other leaders. Take the time daily to invest in yourself.


Successful life coach and business trainer, Brian Buffini, often reminds his clients that “To win the year you must win the day. Win the day to win the week, to win the month, to win the year!” Start with these career tips today and let’s see this year be a breakthrough year for your business.

Share This: 

Related Articles