I may be dating myself, but I am a huge Walter Payton fan. In fact, when teaching managers, future leaders, and my employees, I use Walter Payton as an example as the model employee.
Walter Payton played for the Chicago Bears from 1975 to 1987. He was so good that he was known around the NFL as sweetness. So why is he so important of an example to utilize in business?
When teaching managers about hiring and recruiting I educate them on the fact that I am looking for the next Walter Payton. I am not asking them to recruit running backs. I am asking them to recruit everything that Walter Payton stood for.
Walter Payton led by example. Because Walter Payton was so gifted, he certainly could have missed practice or said, “Coach, I’m Walter Payton, I know how to follow my blocks,” but he didn’t. Instead Walter Payton was the first at practice and last to leave.
Walter Payton studied film and studied the game plan. Walter Payton took the coaching he received and always worked to be better. Walter Payton held himself and his teammates accountable.
Walter Payton helped instill a culture of winning in the locker room and on the playing field. In addition, what I admire most about Walter Payton is when he knew he was about to be tackled he decided to hit the tackler harder. His philosophy was to influence the mind of his competitor each time they tackled him.
Walter Payton seldom ran out of bounds to avoid a tackle. What a great competitor he was.
This is an important message to newly hired employees. It is important to instill what you are looking for in their actions and what will be rewarded.
It is important for them to understand, that no matter their gifts or their background what your expectations are. When we find those qualities in our employees, we truly understand why Walter Payton was named sweetness.