Just sat through another thrilling agonizing loss by my hometown Minnesota Vikings tonight. As I follow the postgame commentary on Twitter, I catch the inevitable tweet — this time, as it happens, from Steve Rubel, that ‘it’s time for Favre to retire.
I don’t buy it. Favre should ask out of the game? Hell no…players want to play, and I wouldn’t want any other kind on my team whether it’s grade school soccer or pro football. At the same time, just as players play, managers have to manage. At some point, when you see your quarterback hobbling across the field and, worse, avoiding sacks with a wild, underhanded fling…don’t you think it’s time to call a timeout? Maybe have a talk with your guy? See if he’s doing OK? Give him a chance to breathe?
Being a manager isn’t easy. There are lots off techniques in the toolbox, but they call come down to being able to see the goal clearly, know the path to that goal, and get the best out of your people so you all can get there. If you don’t like confrontation, you don’t want to manage. If you can’t put yourself in the place of your team, get what they’re feeling, you don’t want to manage. Same if, knowing where your team stands, you don’t like telling hard truths or making tough decisions.
Seeing Favre at Lambeau last night — alternately brilliant and baffling — reminded me of how important it is to have a manager that will help you look good — and save you from yourself. I remember what one of my favorite managers said to me when I started at Fleishman-Hillard. I’d just taken the job from another communications agency, and, eager beaver that I was, I asked him about my billable hours goals. He said:
“Ken, don’t worry about billable hours. It’s my job as a manager to worry getting you the hours. You just do great work.”
That’s what it’s all about isn’t it?