In 2011, Ron Rivera was hired as head coach of the Carolina Panthers. It was his ninth head coaching interview. He inherited a 2-14 team and was paid a salary of less than 50% of the previous head coach, John Fox.
Recently (a whopping five years later) the Panthers just celebrated their first NFC Championship win since 2004, with a nearly undefeated season record. Though there have been many ups and downs leading up to this point, it’s clear that Rivera’s leadership played a part in transforming his team from the inside out.
At Throwing Words, we call this approach “relational productivity.” It’s a system that encourages individual team members to collectively leverage their strengths in order to become more engaged, more empowered, and more effective as a whole.
Two Ways Rivera’s Coaching Promotes Productivity
He engages his players. Rivera has a small office downstairs next to the team’s locker room. He spends as much time there as he can, engaging his players, studying their interactions with each other, learning as much as possible about their personalities, so as to maximize their strengths on the field. No front office leadership style for Rivera.
He fosters a culture of authenticity. Rivera has preached all year for his players to be themselves: “I’ve told our guys there’s only one thing we need to do,” he says. “We need to be ourselves. We need to keep our energy, keep our focus, play our kind of football. If we do that, there are no regrets.” Encouraged by a conversation with NFL icon, John Madden, he made a decision several years ago to stop coaching “by the book”—to stop doing what everyone says coaches are supposed to do. Instead, he coaches his team to play freely and to celebrate loudly, as evidenced by the recent controversy over Cam Newton’s famous touchdown dabs.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our “How Did He Do It?” blog series, where we will discuss the third way that Coach Ron Rivera employs Relational Productivity in his style of coaching.
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