5 Leadership Lessons From Penn State’s 2016 Football Team’s Success


By Glenn Ebersole

What a story the 2016 Penn State football team has written so far this year! Reflecting on winning the Big Ten Football Championship on December 3rd, I came up with 5 lessons that I believe leaders can learn from this year’s Penn State football team. Here they are:

Lesson #1: Failure precedes success! This is true in business and sports. One makes mistakes and experiences setbacks in business, sports and in other parts of our person lives. Penn State made mistakes and had failures during the season that became part of their DNA for winning.

Lesson #2: Success rarely is achieved overnight (although that is what too many fans expect) and it may take years. Success is achieved through struggle, hard work and incredible persistence. The ability to persist regardless of setbacks, unexpected events, bad news and resistance. This is a trait that is not inherent. Rather it must be developed. I do not believe anyone could make a case that Penn State football and their players did not experience all of those challenges. The end result though is that this Penn State football team is VERY PERSISTENT!

Lesson #3: Success requires a willingness and commitment to change. The coaching changes, players assigned to play new positions, new coaches with different philosophies, adopting the “next man up” when players went down all were exhibited this season with Penn State. The changes proved extremely successful.

Lesson #4: Build and nurture your support communities. Guess we know what happens when we hear someone say “White Out!” Great achievements require a team of like-minded supporters and a strong network to provide practical and emotional support. The loyalty and support of the fan base for Penn State football was stronger than ever this year.

Lesson #5: Leverage your role as the underdog. We actually can experience an emotional adrenaline rush when we overcome adversity and come from behind. It determines how we approach challenges and how we tell ourselves it is okay to take risks – like going for it on 4th down on your own territory.

Vince Lombardi, Head Coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1959 – 1967, offered a great quote that certainly applies to the 2016 Big 10 Champions Penn State when he said, “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”

The fact of the matter is that leaders can learn some valuable lessons from this 2016 Penn State championship football team!


aaeaaqaaaaaaaadcaaaajdc3ztjlyjfmltexnzytndrmms05mduylwm2ywiwm2ewyty4ygGlenn Eberson is Market Development Manager for High Concrete Services in Denver, PA. Glenn can be reached via email at gebersole@high.net.






Top photo credit: puffclinty Penn State Lining Up for Field Goal via photopin (license)

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