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Big Red

A couple of weeks ago, we, like millions of other people, ate too many wings and watched the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.  Although it made us stay up past our bedtime, we will admit it was a pretty spectacular sporting finish. 

After the game, Chief’s tight-end Travis Kelce debriefed the event with his brother, Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce, on their popular sports podcast, New Heights.  While the podcast provided all sorts of insights into the Super Bowl experience, one aspect in particular stood out for us. 

At one point in the the first half, the Chiefs were not playing particularly well, and after a frustrating play, Travis went up to Kansas City Chiefs head coach, Andy Reid (aka “Big Red”), and seemingly pushed him and yelled in his face.  

From the podcast

Jason: “It was obviously affecting you guys on the sideline after the fumble and the turnover, the broadcast showed you having a heated exchange with Coach Reid. So heated, yeah.. it looks like you caught Big Red off guard a little bit… you crossed the line, 

Travis: I can’t get that fired up to the point where I’m bumping coach and it’s getting him off balance and stuff when he stumbled, I was just like, oh sh*t in my head. 

Jason: I mean, let’s be honest, the yelling in his face too is over the top. I think there’s better ways to handle this retrospectively. 

In our experience, most leaders (i.e., Big Red) would react pretty negatively if a subordinate (i.e, Travis Kelce) pushed them and yelled in their face.  In most cases, it would result in immediate termination.  However, what we found interesting was Coach Reed’s reaction to the situation. 

Again from the podcast:  

Travis: “It’s definitely unacceptable and I immediately wish I could have took it back. Coach Reid actually came right up to me after that and didn’t even have harsh words for me.  I was ready to get a f*cking ass chewing and for him to just tell me to f*cking be better… and he just let [me] know, hey, man I love your passion…  and man, it just made me fired up even more to go out there and get a f*cking victory for him, man. Because that’s how much I love that dude, man.”

Of course, there’s nuance to this situation.  Travis and Jason went on to discuss how close of a relationship Travis has with his coach and how much mutual respect they have for each other.  Clearly, there’s a lot of history between the two that allowed Coach Reid to read the situation.  

That said, despite the physicality of football, under the lights of the the Super Bowl, with all of the media attention in the world, after being pushed and yelled at, Coach Reid didn’t take the bait.  Instead, he realized that his player was acting that way for a reason and he needed to guide that emotion productively.  The easy thing to do would have been to chastise Travis.  A less experienced manager likely would have done just that.  However, Coach Reid knew that in that moment, the right response for his player was the antithesis of the stereotypical aggressive football coach approach; rather it was the softer, kinder, gentler response. 

There are a lot of stressful moments working in a small business.  We have had our own embarrassing meltdowns.  We have had teammates who lose their cool or react emotionally.  In those moments we hope we can avoid the knee-jerk reaction to fight and instead find the extra measure of grace needed to show empathy for whatever is causing the outburst and use that as an opportunity to build a deeper connection with that individual.  It seems like this Coach Reid guy might know what he’s doing. 

Have a great week,

Your Chenmark Team

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