What Leadership Looks Like

Some rube wrote in with this question for Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune:

“Is any player stepping up to provide leadership on that side of the ball? — Tom S., Chicago, from email”

“I thought Jared Allen did a really good job of addressing this issue so let’s hear from him first on this:

“‘I don’t want this to sound bad,’ Allen said Wednesday afternoon at Halas Hall. ‘We talk about leader. What does that look like to people? I think we have great leaders here. Leaders don’t necessarily have to stand up at the podium and make some big speech. Matter of fact, if someone gets up every week and has to have, ‘Coach is out, let’s have a (meeting),’ that’s lame honestly. What’s that gonna do? That is rah-rah.

“‘Leadership comes from the guys that show up every week, go out and work during practice, be in their playbook, they know what they are doing, go out on Sunday and they give it everything they’ve got. Leaders, in my opinion, you don’t know what they do. You don’t know what is said behind closed doors to someone. You don’t know if someone is struggling; a true leader will go and talk to them in private.”

“‘So I think that is what we do well with this team. So I would say we have good leadership. Maybe from the outside looking in you guys are looking for a vocal person with an ‘S’ on his chest to do something but those aren’t the guys typically I find people respond to.'”

“Now, I don’t know if I agree with Allen that the Bears have the best leadership possible on the defensive side of the ball. A lot of folks have been writing wondering when the next Mike Brown is going to wander along and grab everyone’s attention by exclaiming, ‘We suck!’ That Brown speech made a lot of fans happy. It acknowledged things were not going well. It didn’t do anything to the product on the field on Sundays.”

Like many of the fans that Biggs is speaking about, I had Mike Brown in mind when I was thinking of this question. But in fairness to myself, I also had Brian Urlacher in mind. Urlacher would have been the last person to proclaim “We suck” but there’s little doubt that teammates considered him to be a team leader and they looked to him in many different ways to be that.

The first part of Biggs’s response after the Allen quote was what I was after. I totally acknowledge that leadership demonstrates itself in many different ways but the one thing that has to be true is that everyone has to look to that guy to lead the way. He has to be the guy that others gravitate toward who can help pull them together into a unit in times where its needed. It takes a unique combination of both personality and on-field ability. I don’t see it and I haven’t read anything other than general comments similar to Allen’s to make me think that someone is doing a lot of it in ways that I wouldn’t see.  It has been a serious issue for this team and, as far as I can tell, its going to continue to be a serious issue.

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