Nine great Peyton Manning traits …

If Peyton Manning were an entrepreneur, I’d like to be his angel investor. It’s clear that many of the characteristics that make Manning a great quarterback would also make him a great entrepreneur. Here are nine characteristics of an entrepreneur that Manning personifies:

1. Be a visionary leader. Great entrepreneurs have the ability to see the big picture and, even more important, recognize the opportunities in that picture that other people don’t. I called this ability The Warren Buffett/Peyton Manning Secret Strategy in a 2010 CoBiz article. Buffett and Manning are both masters at having vision and seizing opportunities others never notice. What a valuable entrepreneur characteristic!

2. Have a maniacal focus. Great entrepreneurs have a maniacal focus on what’s important all the way through to the tiniest detail, especially in the early phases of building a business. Manning certainly has this characteristic; his attention to detail borders on obsessive.

3. Constantly communicate. In 26 years of leadership work, I’ve never heard someone complain about leaders communicating too much. But if Manning were an entrepreneur, he might be the first to over-communicate. He’s the most communicative and physically animated quarterback in the NFL. He constantly communicates with the members of his offense on the field, both verbally and nonverbally.

4. Take control. Leaders need to be collaborative at times and directive at other times. Manning is collaborative in meetings and on the bench during games. On the field, he controls himself and everyone on the offense, and at times even the crowd. If you watched the Monday night game against Oakland, you also saw him control the excited and noisy crowd of more than 75,000 fans. He flapped his arms to quiet the fans so he could audibly bark out signals. When the crowd didn’t settle down, he exaggerated his arm flapping gesticulations, and my interpretation was, “Would you guys shut up?” The crowd went silent.

5. Raise all boats. When Manning first arrived in Denver, John Elway was right when he said something like, “Manning is a guy who will raise all boats.” Notice how everyone on the team has raised their game offense, defense and special teams have all been incredible! Even Broncos head coach John Fox has stated that Manning’s high expectations and personal discipline have made him a better coach.

6. Pursue passion. Do you think Manning plays football for the money at this point? Granted, making $30 million a year, which is about what Manning makes including endorsements, might be motivating. But he has indicated that the personal challenges he’s been through — his neck injury, four surgeries and being released by the Indianapolis Colts — and coming to Denver to play rekindled his fire. Ah, igniting Manning’s fire to win. Now that’s bad news for Denver’s opponents!

7. Learn from failures (setbacks). In last year’s devastating 38-35 playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Broncos were leading and needed only one more first down to run out the clock and preserve the win, but they didn’t do it. So what did the Manning-led Broncos offense do during the second half of the Raiders game when they held an almost insurmountable lead? They learned from their failure and worked on their running game so they could improve at running out the clock when they have a lead. They worked on it again late in the game against the Eagles.

8. Possess emotionally toughness. Manning throws interceptions and fumbles periodically but doesn’t get down. The ability to let go of losses and mistakes and quickly focus on the present rather than the past is the key to success in sports, business and life and definitely a necessary characteristic of an entrepreneur.

9. Be coachable. Adam Gase is Manning’s offensive coordinator and was also his quarterback coach. Gase is younger than Manning, yet Manning is willing to have Gase coach him. Most accomplished people would dismiss a younger, less-experienced coach, but not Manning. Being coachable, especially from people with slightly different perspectives, gives both athletes and business leaders a competitive edge.

For example, when I met Rick Wagner, CEO of Employment Solutions, a staffing industry expert was already coaching him weekly. But he also wanted to do advanced work with his mind to enhance his effectiveness in both his personal life and his work. Rick’s “coachability” helped him grow his business revenues from $6M to over $20M in 3 years and be on the Inc. 5000 list for 3 years straight. He stated, “I have been running Employment Solutions for nearly 20 years and it wasn’t until I really took outside coaching seriously that we really started to rapidly grow both our top and bottom lines.”

Manning isn’t just a great quarterback; he’s a great leader who demonstrates many characteristics of an entrepreneur. He’d be a great entrepreneur, and my guess is that employees would love working for him, just like his Broncos teammates love playing for him. And if he needed an angel investor … I’d grow wings and a halo.

Categories: Management & Leadership