Featured Article


Football seems to be a treasure trove of examples of principled leadership in action, when we examine the interaction between players and coaches on the field, in practice and in the locker room. Here is a fresh example from the locker room of the Indianapolis Colts, when their coach addressed the team after a victory.

Chuck Pagano is in his first year as head coach of the Colts. It should also be noted that the team is led at quarterback by a rookie. Three games into the season, Coach Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia and immediately took a leave of absence to begin treatments.

Pagano’s fighting spirit inspired the team earlier in the season to an impressive victory over the highly favored Green Bay Packers.

This past Sunday, the Colts took the field against the Miami Dolphins and came away with another hard fought victory after being down in the final minutes.

Pagano, who was in between treatment cycles, attended the game and addressed the team before and after the game. His post-game speech was caught by the cameras, and you can watch the speech here:


It could be easy to get caught up in the emotion of the moment (and believe me I did) but there is also a powerful example of principled leadership in action.

The two characteristics of principled leadership that were displayed by Pagano are represented by the eyes and feet. Principled leaders have the ability to see out ahead, beyond the circumstances of the moment. They not only see the direction, mission and end goal, they are also able to ground their feet and the team’s feet in that vision.

They do not allow themselves to get held back by their circumstances or what others say those circumstance should mean to the team. For the Colts football team, this means not getting hung up by what the prognosticators and media said “should” happen to a team that only won two games last year and has a new coach and rookie quarterback. Those are just circumstances and they are refusing to be defined by those, but are rather living in the vision of a championship.

For Pagano, this means not getting dragged into the stereotype of what the circumstances might dictate for a cancer patient living through treatment. Instead, he’s living in the vision of dancing with his daughters at their weddings and lifting a championship trophy with his team. That vision is what is defining him, not the circumstances he’s living through.

  1. What circumstances are presently defining your mood, attitude and behavior?
  2. What is the bigger vision you have for your work and life?
  3. What steps will you take to ground your feet and point your eyes to that vision every day?


Jeff Harmon

Jeff Harmon is the president of Brilliance Within Coaching & Consulting which specializes in developing servant leaders while helping them translate their strategies into actionable plans that drive business results. Jeff is the author of “The Anatomy of a Principled Leader.” Jeff has been developing leaders for nearly 20 years and has led the execution of over 100,000 hours of business strategy for information technology, financial services and non-profit organizations.

What People Are Saying

There are no comments yet, why not be the first to leave a comment?

Join The Conversation