Leadership lessons from Tim Tebow

If you don't know who Tim Tebow is, then the rock you live under probably doesn't offer NFL game coverage or Internet access. In any case, he's the controversial Denver Broncos quarterback who's got a thing for winning impossible games and kneeling and praying on the field when he does.

Since taking over as starting quarterback for the hapless Broncos, Tebow's led the team to seven victories in eight games, mostly the dramatic come-from-behind variety. The controversy comes from Tebow's college habit of wearing biblical passage references in his eye black, a pro-life Super Bowl ad and the whole down-on-one-knee-praying thing, a.k.a. "Tebowing."

Considering all the moronic, over-the-top things players do to get attention these days -- many of which hurt their teams with unnecessary penalties -- I don't get why anyone has a problem with Tebow praying after scoring a touchdown. But then there are a lot of things I don't get, like Hip Hop, the Kardashians and how Tim Geithner still has a job. But I digress.

In spite of all the controversy, Tebow has demonstrated some remarkable qualities in leading the Broncos out of the cellar and into first place in the AFC West. If your career, department or company needs a leadership boost, here are three lessons you can learn from the unconventional Mr. Tebow.

Have faith. There's absolutely no doubt that Tebow's religious faith drives his faith in himself. And that, in turn, drives his teammate's faith in him, which seems to inspire the entire team to perform at a ridiculously high level and win against all odds. Personally, I don't care what you have faith in. As long as you truly have faith in something, you'll also have faith in yourself. I don't know why that is, but it's true. Inspiration is inspiring. Faith is self-fulfilling.

Live your own life, not someone else's. Since day one, Tebow has followed an unconventional path. He was born in the Philippines, the youngest of five to Christian missionaries. He was home-schooled. He's an unusually physical quarterback who played half a High School game on a broken fibula. He doesn't care what anyone thinks of his home-schooling, his faith, or anything else, for that matter. He does what makes sense to him, even if everyone else is doing the opposite. It reminds me of something Steve Jobs once said: "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice."

Culture is key. Growing up with a strong family unit, sense of community, and system of ethics and beliefs -- as Tebow did -- is really important in leadership. I think people with a strong cultural background are more effective at creating a strong corporate culture. They also tend to make building team spirit a priority. Those are key ingredients in organizations that outperform and win. It's no coincidence that the words "culture" and "cult" are closely related. Of course, you don't necessarily have to grow up with all that, but it probably helps.

Inside Apple's cult-like cultureSteve Jobs's inspirational words

If you look at the big picture here, you get a sense of a strong individual who really knows himself, what he believes in and what he stands for. When that type of person sets a goal, his team will do whatever it takes to make it happen. That's what's going on with the Denver Broncos. That, to me, is leadership.


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