Matt Ryan’s Lesson for Leaders


The Falcons lost in a heartbreaker, but they fielded a great team for a great Super Bowl. Ron Farmer, Atlanta resident and President of Heartland Campus Solutions, wrote this note to his “team” of over 500 on Monday morning. In it, Ron identifies a great takeaway for leaders and teams. He was gracious to let me share it with you.


Well, the Falcons lost the Super Bowl in a heartbreaking way, but I’m proud of them for being NFC champs and for improving so much from last season.
When evaluating why the Falcons improved so much this past year, there are a number of key areas. The fast, young defense got better and better as the season progressed. The offensive line was much improved over a year ago. Second-year Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s complex scheme was better than year one. Special teams were tops in the league, led by my son’s personal favorite, Eric Weems.
Sportscasters spend a lot of time discussing those things. But I heard an interview with Falcons QB Matt Ryan over a month ago, well before the playoffs started, where he explained the big difference maker — RELATIONSHIPS.
Ryan said, “Dan Quinn [Falcons head coach] really challenged me this off-season to build relationships with my teammates. Relationships matter. I want to build deep connections.” Ryan went on to say that in past seasons, he went straight to the film room to do his work. Now he has lunch with teammates. He stops in the hallway and has conversations. Ryan said that he slows down and is more mindful of building deep connections. He ended with, “That’s why guys will tell you ours is one of the most connected locker rooms they’ve ever been in.”

So, I started thinking— if more focus on relationships could lead the Falcons to the Super Bowl, what could it do for us in our work environment?

What if we took the time to get to know our co-workers better? What if when we got a frustrating email, we walked down the hall or picked up the phone to discuss it, instead of firing off an email response and stewing about it? What if we made it a point to get to know folks in other departments and divisions, to listen intently and understand what’s important to them?
What if we were actually a little vulnerable and told people what we’re really thinking about and why that bothers us? Would that be so bad? What if we went out to lunch with someone from a different department who we don’t know very well? What if we really made an effort to make a personal connection with people we work with, whether they work in our building or in Lenexa, Pittsburgh, Chattanooga, Auburn, Atlanta, Plano, or Jeffersonville?
Working harder on relationships, making a conscious effort to get to know people, talking to teammates about what’s important to them and telling them what’s important to him helped Matt Ryan become the NFL MVP and, ultimately, helped the Atlanta Falcons make it to the Super Bowl.
Being better at relationships isn’t going to get Campus Solutions to the Super Bowl (although I was one heck of a 165 pound high school linebacker!), but it can make us more successful, help us be happier and enjoy life more fully. And that’s pretty darn good.


Rob’s closing question:
What are you doing today to be more intentional
about strengthening relationships
with the people on your team?