A good example of how an individuals leadership style can adversely affect an entire team is Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys. Jones is a shrewd businessman worth billions of dollars, but he is not a coach, general manager or a leader. Still, Jones insists on advising the coaches he hires and firing those who fail to follow his advice. This attitude and approach has cost the Dallas Cowboys many wins over the last 20 years. The team and the entire franchise have been affected by the decisions Jerry Jones has made. This season was certainly no exception.
The idea that leaders typically surround themselves with others who are like them can be evidenced further down the Cowboys ladder with problematic players, such as Terrell Owens and now Darren Hardy. Overall, the antics of Jones are nowhere near as over the top as those of Owens or Hardy, but the impact Jones has had is far greater. In the overall scheme of things, the energy of these two highly visible Cowboy players has had an effect on the team but it’s still Jones who has the ultimate responsibility and has taken the entire franchise off course.
The overall record of the Dallas Cowboys since Jones took it over is .500 at best. Prior to Jones buying the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, “America’s Team” was the only NFL team to record 20 straight winning seasons (1966-85), a period in which they only missed the playoffs twice. They won five Super Bowls before Jones and three after, two of which were under Coach Jimmy Johnson, who Jones fired because he refused to coach the way Jones thought he should. The Dallas Cowboys are one of the highest valued franchises in the world today, but it’s been twenty years since the Cowboys have had a Super Bowl win and any sports franchise would view a .500 record as a failure.
And a further failure is the example Jones sets as a leader. He has shown time and time again that he not only lacks the skills to make solid football decisions but also lacks the moral and ethical compass to make correct human decisions. The very idea that he would bring in Greg Hardy at a time when our country is finally becoming aware of the domestic violence issue and not only condone his behavior but also call Hardy “a leader” is downright scary. Hardy’s antics and volatile temper make Owens look like a choirboy but here’s the common denominator…Jones. Jones, like Daniel Snyder of the Washington football franchise, continues to put winning above doing the right thing. Continuing to support Hardy as anything but a sick abuser with an uncontrollable temper and boot him from the team is just a snapshot look at the ethically bereft individual Jones is.
I don’t typically focus on the negative side of things but sometimes it can provide a powerful example of what we want to move away from. So in our book, Power Shift, we use Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys example because it is a highly visible one, though not at all unusual in the business world. This same kind of thing occurs in companies across the nation and throughout the world every day. Leaders who make choices based on their own beliefs and mindset (blind spot) without the benefit of actual facts and filtered through a diminished ethical and moral lens can lead companies to stagnation and loss and in some cases, to their demise. Yes, I know many businesses have operated for generations like this but as we show in the Power Shift book, the days of doing business in this old way is limited based on the force of the coming generations. We are in the midst of the biggest workforce power shift in history and the old vestiges of dysfunctional leadership, like Jerry Jones, are on the way out.