Business leadership professors size up Washington Redskins’ problems

Despite a Sunday win, there are certainly many factors contributing to the Washington Redskins’ woeful season. Lots of fans blame the owner, Daniel Snyder, for mismanaging a once proud franchise. Business professors who teach leadership say the head of an enterprise is indeed a key to the organization’s success.

“The corporate landscape is littered with the carcasses of corporations that started off very well, that had great resources, but because of poor leadership at the top, they ended up failing,” said Professor Phillip Phan of the Carey School of Business at Johns Hopkins University.

Employees — or, in the case of the Redskins, players — can have deep talent, broad experience and great resources, but can still fail because of leadership.

“People tend to emulate the behaviors of the leader … there’s organizational culture that permeates throughout the entire organization. It can be things like stories people tell or rituals they observe or even material symbols of what’s important in the organization,” said Nicole Coomber, a management and organization professor at the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.

The experts say successful business leaders have familiar traits — they are extroverted, organized and conscientious.

Phan and Coomber say team members’ trust in the leader is an important component of success.

Phan said confidence is key — “confidence that the leader is able to give them the resources, to motivate them, to lead them so that they can achieve.”

Coomber said one way leaders can gain their team members’ trust is to exude authenticity.

“Authentic leadership — where someone is able to express their values, to show that they are vulnerable and willing to learn and to take risks — and in our culture today that seems to be the leader that seems to resonate the most with people,” Coomber said.

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