Football, Lies and Videotape

Tweet 62 in Success Tweets, my latest career success coach book says, “Your personal brand should be uniquely you, but built on integrity.  Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking.”

Over the weekend the Denver Broncos announced that they had violated NFL policy by secretly videotaping the San Francisco 49ers practice the day before they played the Broncos in London a couple of weeks ago.  Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels told the press and the league that the Broncos video manager gave him the videos, but that he never watched them. 

NFL ethics rules say that any person who is aware of a violation of NFL rules has the responsibility to report the violation to the league.  In this case, a Broncos’ staff person reported the violation – not the coach.  The Broncos and Josh McDaniels were each fined $50,000.

As the career advice in Tweet 62 suggests, both the Broncos and Josh McDaniels brands were damaged by this episode.  However, the situation goes deeper.  The Sunday Denver Post had several letters to the editor from Broncos fans expressing deep disappointment in Josh McDaniels’ conduct.  Fans feel a kinship with their team.  In this case, Coach McDaniels’ action – or more accurately, non action – left many people feeling betrayed.

While I live in Denver and follow the Broncos, I’m a Pittsburgh guy and my first allegiance it to the Steelers.  I know that I felt betrayed by Ben Roethlisberger’s sexual misconduct came to light last Spring, so I know how people who love the Broncos feel.

I wrote a chapter in 42 Rules for Creating WE entitled, “Act in a Manner That Honors Yourself and Your Associates.”  The career advice in the chapter was simple.  When you act in a less than ethical manner, you not only harm your reputation and personal brand, you hurt other people around you.  Here is that chapter…

My original message here was, “Never do anything to embarrass yourself or your associates.”  Nancy Ring, a colleague in the Creating WE Institute pointed out that this is a negative statement; it told you what not to do.  Nancy suggested that I change it to a positive statement that tells you what you should do to be a responsible member of an organization or community.

Nancy is right.  It’s much better to provide others with positive, affirmative actions they can use as guides for action than with negative actions to avoid.  Thanks to Nancy for this bonus advice.

WE-centric thinking holds that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves.  This being the case, your actions reflect not only on you personally, they are a reflection of the various groups with which you are associated. 

When I was in junior high school I was caught shoplifting an item that cost less than a dollar from a local discount store.  I did it on a dare.  My parents were very upset with me.  They raised me not to lie, cheat and steal.  With this little shoplifting escapade I dishonored our family.  It didn’t matter that it was on a childhood dare or that “everyone else was doing it.”  What mattered was that my actions had implications that went beyond me and reflected negatively on my family.

This is the heart of the matter here.  You represent all of the groups with whom you are associated.  You represent your family, your school, your company and any number of other groups.  Your behavior, positive and negative, reflects on these groups and their members as much as it does you.  Act honorably, and people will associate honor with the groups with which you are associated.  Act dishonorably and people will form negative opinions of these groups.

I felt honored when I was asked to contribute a few rules to this book.  As a member of the Creating WE Institute, I know that my writing reflects on all of my co-authors in this book as well as every member of the institute.  I feel a little extra responsibility to do the best job I can because of my responsibility to represent my friends and colleagues well.  I want them to be proud of this book and those of us who contributed to it.

Sometimes things work out the other way.  Several years ago the city of New York honored a group of policemen and firemen for acts of valor.  After the ceremony, a few policeman and fireman over indulged a bit.  What began as good natured bantering and taunting between New York’s Finest (the police) and New York’s Bravest (the firefighters) turned into a fist fight in front of a restaurant and bar that bordered one of the city’s more popular parks. 

The incident was widely reported in the local papers and TV newscasts.  Even though less than 20 cops and firemen were involved, none of whom were the honorees, both the Police Department and Fire Department suffered a big black eye.  This negative public perception lingered until the bravery members of both departments displayed on 9/11.

If you want to behave in a WE-centric manner, you need to accept the fact that your actions are a reflection on you and all of the people and organizations with which you are associated.  Act in a manner that will reflect well on you and the others in your life.

The common sense career success coach point here is simple.  Build your personal brand on integrity.  Always act in a manner that honors not only yourself, but your associates.  Your actions and behavior reflect – positively and negatively – on the people with whom you are associated.  Denver Broncos head coach, Josh McDaniels, not only dishonored himself by failing to report a serious violation of NFL rules, he brought dishonor to a very proud NFL franchise.  More important, he hurt the fans – especially the little boys who dream of growing up to play for the Broncos.  Follow the career advice in Success Tweet 62.  “Your personal brand should be uniquely you, but built on integrity.  Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking.”  Always act with integrity.  That way, you will honor yourself and those who are close to you — and you’ll be building the life and career success you want and deserve.

That’s my take on the Josh McDaniels videotape episode.  What’s yours?  Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading.


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