The Bud Adams Factor

I’ll be the first one to admit I’ve not always been a big fan of Bud Adams.  But his recent decision to retain coach Jeff Fisher proved to me that “even an old dog can learn new tricks.”

This decision, I know for Mr. Adams, wasn’t easy.  He personally liked – maybe even loved – Vince Young, and wants to see him do well.  But when confronted with the future of his team and the help of his franchise, he did something that most leaders at his level don’t do.  He listened.

It’s so important, this principle, that I am going to call it The Bud Adams Factor.  He listened.  How many leaders listen?  The leaders of his organization, his front office went down to Houston, sat down with him and laid out the facts as they were, and he listened.  Do you understand how hard this is for leaders who have led over time?

When young leaders ascend the throne, so to speak, one of the first things they say is, “I want to hear all opinions, pro and con; the dissenters and also those for the idea.”  But over time with the sting of dissension, listening becomes harder and harder to do. The more successful you are, the harder it is to do.

We tend to forget that Mr. Adams, along with the other renegades who pioneered the American Football League were doing a radical thing: investing, in some cases, their life savings on far less than a sure thing.  It’s easy to look back from the days of billion-dollar owners and million-dollar players and to see how smart they were to make this investment.  But after 10, 15, 20, even 30 years of leading and succeeding, a leader has a way of becoming deaf.

So, as much of a critic as I’ve been of Mr. Adams in the past, let me say, “Thank you Mr. Adams for listening to your front office and recognizing that keeping Jeff Fisher protected not only the integrity of your team, but the future that we all want.  For Jeff Fisher has, over time, earned our confidence and our trust.”