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Jack Welch, Josh McDaniels & John Elway success strategies

TC North //May 3, 2010//

Jack Welch, Josh McDaniels & John Elway success strategies

TC North //May 3, 2010//

What success philosophy do Josh McDaniels , current coach of the Broncos, and Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, have in common?

They both believe that good character is critical for team success.

Jack Welch believed in hiring people with character, intelligence and maturity – everything else was teachable. Josh McDaniels has a similar philosophy and chose quarterback Tim Tebow as the 25th pick in the first round of the NFL draft this year, creating a tidal wave of criticism from the football pundits.

Many of these pundits predict Tebow won’t be a great NFL quarterback; some say he doesn’t have the right skills to even be a quarterback. But coach McDaniels believes in Tebow’s character and thinks he’ll be able to make changes and continue his winning tradition. Is McDaniels right, or has he made a career-crushing mistake?


Tebow’s long, slow throwing motion — notice his left arm is low and behind him, away from his body.

Go here to see how Tebow has already radically changed his throwing motion to be a better pro quarterback.

I thought this question of talent versus character in sport and business was intriguing. So, I asked former Denver Broncos linebacker Karl Mecklenburg for his perspective, which is unique because of what he experienced. He was the 310th player chosen in the 1983 NFL draft, only 12 choices from the last man drafted, who is deemed Mr. Irrelevant.

For the pros, Mecklenburg was too small to be a nose tackle like he was in college and too slow to be a linebacker, but he believed in himself and had a burning desire to be “the best football player ever.” Mecklenburg’s belief and desire paid off and he played for the Broncos for 13 years, was all-pro six times and played in three Super Bowls. Not bad for a guy with limited physical talent. He’s a testimony that great character and mental toughness are more important than pure talent. Professional sports are filled with athletes with great physical talent, but great teams are made up of athletes with character.

Here’s my conversation with Mecklenburg:

(North) Do you think Tim Tebow will become a franchise quarterback or did coach Josh McDaniels make a potentially career-crushing mistake like the pundits say?
(Mecklenburg) I’ll be surprised if he’s not a franchise quarterback and within a few years helps the Broncos become a playoff team again.
(North) Why?
(Mecklenburg) Because he has the character it takes to be great.
(North) So you agree with Josh McDaniels in the importance of character?
(Mecklenburg) Yes.

(North) Specifically, what does character mean to you and, since you played with John Elway, what about Elway’s character made him great?
• “Elway was driven to win more than others; he had an unbelievable desire to win. It’s a huge part of what made his success.
• He was the penultimate team player.
• John loved being a teammate, and in return was loved and respected by his teammates. He loved being one of the guys. He wasn’t clique-y; he hung out with everyone. He came to every off-season conditioning session and every team function, even though he didn’t have to, which created great camaraderie and respect not only for him, but it set the standard for the whole team.
• He believed so strongly in winning, everyone believed.
• He was best under pressure, when the game was on the line.

(North) What do you know about Tebow that makes you think he’ll be a great franchise quarterback?
• Tebow’s a winner. He has won more football games than any other NCAA quarterback; that doesn’t happen by mistake.
• He’s coachable; so many great college athletes who’ve achieved his level of success are arrogant, not coachable, and even selfish. Look at what he has done already to improve his throwing motion since his college season.
• He has those intangible leadership qualities that are hard to describe.
• Tebow is loved and respected by his teammates and coach.
• It’s all about the team and coach for Tebow.

Here’s a summary of the seven strategies to win big in business and sport from the conversation with Mecklenburg:

1. To be great, you have to have character.
2. There’s more talent than there is greatness. Talent is common.
3. Desire is the fuel of great success.
4. Imagine perfection and keep working toward it.
5. Be the penultimate team player.
6. Learn to be your best when it’s all on the line.
7. Build community and deep commitment to your team’s mission.

Former Broncos’ legend Karl Mecklenburg is now the author of Heart of a Student Athlete, a motivational speaker ( and still a man of great character.

What are your thoughts on the talent versus character debate? Leave a comment below.

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