In late March I attended the Indiana Safety and Health Conference & Expo in Indianapolis. I also spent time with my former West Virginia University (WVU) teammate and longtime friend, Oliver Luck. He was Academic All-America at WVU. Oliver is also a former NFL quarterback and well-respected sports executive who is now second in charge with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Most recently, he served as AD at WVU but in reality, AD doesn’t stand for Athletic Director but for Andrew’s Dad. That’s Andrew Luck, star quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts.

Oliver delivered a wonderful closing keynote entitled, Quarterbacking Your Team, and I’ve summarized the major points below.

On planning or scheming, especially in the NFL. It may be difficult to out-scheme another team or organization but you can outwork and out prepare them.

Trust is developed when groups and individuals work together over time. Individuals need to be open and clear about expectations and roles. Often being brutally honest is necessary. And if trust is one side of the shiny coin, accountability is the other.

Accountability can and should be measured. Use BIG DATA to make BIG Decisions. Players in the NFL are held accountable every week and their performance is measured. Create positive forms of competition to get people moving faster, better, and more efficiently. Leaders need to walk the shop-floor to be visibly accountable.

Educate and train continually. Continual education is needed at every level within an organization so people can perform better and at increasingly higher levels. Safety professionals need to continually educate themselves and those around them. Communicate constantly to inform, coach, and facilitate positive change.

Mental toughness is difficult to improve but incremental gains can first be achieved by allowing others to experience success early on and subsequently setting increasingly higher standards and goals.

In closing, Oliver used the mantra of Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots, who has won six Super Bowls as an assistant and head coach – Do Your Job. In some ways – it should be that simple and we need to be reminded to always do our best – always work as hard as we possibly can, and simply do our job!

Contact David Sarkus if you want to hear both Oliver and David speak at greater length on this topic –