Two games. Two emotional incidents. Similar results. As we lead up to a Chief and Eagles Super Bowl, it’s interesting to look at how emotions changed the tide of two games and who we will watch on Sunday. AND what does that mean for you, your leadership, and your business?

Game 1: AFC Wildcard – Jaguars vs. Chargers

Thinking that the refs missed a false start penalty on a touchdown by the Jaguars, Joey Bosa, outside linebacker for the Chargers, slammed his helmet into the ground near the Charger’s sideline – and received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Instead of kicking the extra point, the Jaguars took the ball on the one-yard line, went for the two-point conversion, and converted. It was a decision that the Jaguars likely wouldn’t have made without the penalty, which changed the game's outcome. With the Jaguars only down by two, they kicked the winning field goal as time expired.  


Game 2:AFC Championship – Chiefs vs. Bengals

With the game tied, only 17 seconds on the clock, no timeouts, and out-of-field goal range, it looked like overtime was imminent. Instead, on a hobbled ankle, Mahomes scrambled. He was several steps out of bounds when he was pushed from behind by Bengals defensive end Joseph Ossai, resulting in a flag for a personal foul. Then, 15 yards closer, the Chiefs kicked the field goal and won the game.

What about these two incidents that we should look at through a leadership lens?


Let’s zoom out and talk about your brain.

You have emotions. Your emotions keep you safe, inform your feelings, and inspire you to action. Emotions are good, yet you need to be careful. Our emotions can get us into trouble when we let our feelings alone lead us to lead ourselves and others.

We have a mind to think and a will to choose.

When you rely on your emotions only to lead, you are in danger of making mistakes that can cost you the game.

Again, emotions are good and informative. They are a barometer of what you are feeling. As a leader, others expect you to have a more comprehensive view of the game and use your emotions to inform and inspire your next steps.

So it’s an emotional sandwich.

Emotions -> Mind -> Will -> Emotions

Your emotions inform and inspire. Your mind helps you think about the current situation and actions. Your will enables you to choose and take the next step, and your emotions support those.

This entire decision-making chain can happen in the blink of an eye. If your emotions are strong enough, that could be detrimental.

Who is the calmest person on the field at a football game? The head coach. The plays, penalties, bad calls, and successes are all fed through a trained brain to feel the emotion and then use the mind and will to continue moving the team toward victory. Yes, they get mad and scream at the refs, but from what I can see, this is a strategic use of emotion.

That’s the other side of the coin. Emotions can help propel you to a more extraordinary mind and will. The entire Chiefs team became fired up about beating the Bengals from all of the trash-talking coming out of Cincinnati (I’m looking at you, Governor).


How are you affected by emotions in your leadership?

Can you transition to your thinking and choosing self before reacting to the moment? If not, or if you’d like to be better, create inflection points along the way. Ask others for their input. Don’t send that email until tomorrow. Most of the time, throwing your helmet will always be a penalty, either in results or to your culture.

We already have a world that leads with emotion and uses that fire to react negatively. Be counter-cultural and use your emotions as a beacon for information and inspiration, allowing your mind and will time to make you a better leader.


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