Fantasy Football’s Lessons on Leadership

I won. But it wasn’t pretty. I had the first pick of the draft. Traditional wisdom says to go running backs early. I pored over articles, blogs, and drafting cheat sheets at the town pool while other moms chatted or read their magazines. I created a draft chart so I could list my top picks and have backup choices ready. Going in to draft day, I hadn’t decided on my first pick.  All my research said Le’Veon Bell was worth the two-week absence due to his suspension. I hemmed and hawed. And I went with Bell.

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The first two weeks were ugly. I started 0-3, even after my star running back returned. Then, in week 4, against my brother, my winning streak began. I won four in a row and got to week eight feeling pretty good. Suddenly, disaster. I lost Bell and, I thought, the rest of the season. I wanted to throw in the fantasy football towel. Instead, I returned to my research, paid more attention to ESPN and my fantasy player stats ticker, and made a couple of roster moves in the following weeks to compensate for the loss of the player around whom I had built my team.

That was my last loss, culminating with a win over my brother in the championship game. This season of ups and downs in fantasy football has reminded me about some important things about being a leader.

  1. Do your homework. When I made the move to a leadership position in a new district last year, I spent my first year learning the culture. Even with preparation, I made some mistakes. However, just like this year, I used those obstacles to help me move forward.
  2. Be flexible. This one goes hand-in-hand with number 1. The best-laid schemes… Assess the situations and adjust accordingly.
  3. Look at the big picture. While Adrian Peterson finished second for fantasy running backs, none of my other top-tier players lived up to their predictions. In fact, three of the top five running backs finished the season ranked between 25th and 30th overall, and the third highest had been ranked 69th. In our data-driven world of education the numbers or grades are a piece of the puzzle, but just one piece. You need the other pieces to clearly see the whole thing. Teachers and kids are not numbers.
  4. Don’t give up. When things don’t go as planned, when you lose your star player, your best teacher, or your plans go awry, use the information at your disposal to adjust your course and keep going.
  5. Don’t second-guess. My brother contends that if he’d gone with his Minnesota defense in the final game, he would’ve been the league champ. I feel his pain. I think most of us in education spend a lot of time thinking “If only I had…” One of the most important lessons I’ve learned this year in my fantasy league and my supervisory role is just as I’d told my English students, in leading there are many possible right answers. I perseverated over Bell versus Peterson in my first draft choice, but in the end, that one choice didn’t make or break my team. My season’s success was a result of the myriad thoughtful choices I made along the way.

I won. But it wasn’t pretty. And I realized it doesn’t have to be. I learned some important lessons about leadership, and as a bonus beat my brother and his friends who, as children, told me I wasn’t a good quarterback. They were right. I’m a good manager.

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