Wes Welker had an interesting interview on ESPN.
Welker, one of the NFL’s top wide receivers in recent years, has been in the spotlight a bit lately because of the terrific start by his new team, the Denver Broncos.
During the interview I saw, he had three insights into leadership – one on his career and two from two prolific quarterbacks he has caught passes from. He has the distinct perspective of being a receiver for two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history – Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
His first insight was on his career. As an undrafted rookie free agent in 2004 (and cut by the San Diego Chargers after one game), it wasn’t until his fourth season in the league that he got the opportunity to start. The ESPN interviewer asked him how he became such a force in the NFL when he was not even drafted coming out of Texas Tech. His answer was he only got into the NFL because of special teams and because of his attitude.
He was always determined to be the toughest player on the field. Despite his very small physical stature compared to other NFL players, he could compete because of his toughness.
Leadership is tough and leaders have to develop tough-mindedness because they will inevitably have numerous critics.
When asked to compare Brady and Manning, he said each leads with different leadership traits. Brady, he said, is a passionate leader, whereas Manning is a steady leadership voice. These are two different ways of leading – at first glance – but both effective.
I think great leaders combine both traits and I also believe Brady’s passionate style is as effective as Manning’s passion about preparation and execution.
Leaders have to be tough, passionate in their beliefs, and steady in their daily habits. It also helps to have the toughness for which Welker himself has become admired.