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Ken Keller: Enthusiasm is catching for business leaders

Posted: March 4, 2014 7:00 p.m.
Updated: March 4, 2014 7:00 p.m.

I viewed the Super Bowl played on February 2 as the clash of generations within the NFL.

John Fox, the Denver Broncos coach, tends to be old school with a corporate, reserved persona. Fox relates well to Peyton Manning and Champ Bailey.

Manning and Bailey have an 18-year age difference between their youngest teammates, likely 21 years old. A married player with children near the end of his football career has little in common with a 21-year-old single player right out of college.

Seattle’s Pete Carroll does things differently, and pretty quickly, the NFL is going to see what Carroll is doing isn’t a fluke or a fad; it’s a trend.

Carroll brings many things to the Seahawks, as does Fox to the Broncos, but the main difference between the two is a key ingredient. It has nothing to do with age; Carroll is actually older than Fox, but he doesn’t think like Fox or act like him.

The Seattle coach gets his players are young and right out of college. They want to follow a leader who understands who they are and what motivates them on and off the field.

You’ll find Carroll on the sidelines, and he isn’t shy about showing emotions on his face and through his body language. Individually and collectively, each Seattle player wants to win and Carroll wants to coach them to be winners.

The secret to Pete Carroll’s success is enthusiasm. I watched when Carroll was the coach at USC, and I’ve seen what he did with it in a short time in Seattle. I’ve determined that enthusiasm does five things for Carroll’s teams.

First, it arrests negativity. Enthusiasm keeps the best players motivated, and it has the potential to turn around the ones who have stumbled, are in doubt about their abilities or capabilities or may be at a point of quitting football as a career.

Second, enthusiasm is not something to be bottled; you can’t store it. It will only work when the leader has it and uses it.

Third, enthusiasm is effective in proportion to its size. Carroll’s personal enthusiasm carried to the entire team – and translated to his fan base, particularly those who attended the home games – a city, the Seattle-Tacoma region and the state of Washington.

You can bet other NFL teams are wondering what it would take to get the support and emotion of their fan base. It might make a difference in St. Louis, Jacksonville and Dallas.

Fourth, enthusiasm creates such a good feeling that it makes a person hungry for more. Enthusiasm for a team is like endorphins for someone who goes to the gym: You like how it makes you feel, and you want the experience to continue.

Last, enthusiasm is so powerful it can turn a stadium filled with 80,000 people from silence into a powerful force that can register on the Richter scale.

If you own a business or are a leader in one, you don’t need to mimic Pete Carroll. But regardless of your industry, you need to transfer the passion you have to those around you – your commitment to doing the job well and satisfying customers better than anyone else.

Your attitude needs to be one others will catch and pass on to others. If you can do it with enthusiasm, it will be that much easier for you to gain the engagement to those around you.

Ken Keller facilitates The Wise Owners Advisory Boards, bringing business owners together to learn, share, act, grow and succeed. Contact him at Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of the SCVBJ.


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