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When Stars Struggle: What We Can Learn From Andy Reid And Travis Kelce



It was a small moment, but the episode illustrates a familiar dilemma leaders of exceptional teams must deal with on a daily basis: How do you manage a superstar when their behavior crosses the line?

If a coach loses their temper, they’re not going to call a good game. If a player loses their temper over a play, they’re going to struggle to focus going forward. The consequences of anger are serious, and when it is directed at other members of the team, the negative consequences multiply. When superstars are in the mix, the impact can be massive.

Leaders need their teams to be totally ready to go when it’s game time—both mentally and physically. The entire team needs to be aligned around a shared goal, and they all need to follow the game plan.

However, winning teams also must remain responsive to changing conditions in real time—making adjustments in a smart, coordinated way. Superstar players have an outsized impact on the field (or in the office) in these moments, both in terms of taking advantage of openings and in defending against threats. Your best players can make the difference between a decisive win and a narrow loss. On top of that, superstars are often leaders in their own right. When this is the case, as it is with Kelce, it’s a wonderful thing.

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But what if your top performer is habitually out of line, or even just occasionally but in the same way each time?

If you ignore it, it starts to tell the rest of the team that either a) that type of behavior is okay or b) there’s a double standard.

Leaders must decide whether the negative effects of bad behavior on the team outweigh the player’s value. If that player’s value does outweigh the negative consequences, then it becomes something that a coach or executive needs to work with them on, while also ensuring that they apologize (or face some sort of consequence) in a way that signals to the rest of the team that they understand their actions were wrong and that there isn’t a double standard.

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