The thrill of throwing the winning touchdown pass in the final minute of the game is unmistakable because it likely took a lot of hard work on the field developing chemistry and off the field learning the plays and opposing defenses.
Perfecting the X’s and O’s, however, is only part of the winning formula. In order for a quarterback to get his team to that victorious moment, he has to develop leadership. That’s where former NFL quarterback Jordan Palmer comes in.
Palmer, who was in and out of the NFL between 2007 and 2014, has become one of the go-to coaches for up-and-coming and proven pro quarterbacks like Josh Allen, Joe Burrow and Sam Darnold.
One of the most important lessons Palmer teaches is about leadership. What makes leadership unique is that it can be different for every team, and it can be the same for a high school junior varsity team that it is for the Seattle Seahawks.
“The reality is there is not one way to lead,” Palmer says. “I don’t believe that there is one way to throw either. When it comes to straight up throwing the ball you can have your most efficient way, and then there is a most productive way to lead. That may change over the years and that may change from situation to situation.”
For instance, Palmer tells all of his students, whether they are about to be the starter on a freshman team or if they are entering their third year as an NFL starter, to start with the same exercise.
He tells them to analyze the chemistry of their team. Does the team need to be tougher? Does the team need to work harder? Does the team need to improve its discipline? Does the team need more confidence?
Once the quarterback has pinpointed what his team needs, he must decide which of his own innate qualities he can use to make those happen.
Palmer likes to use the example of a Venn diagram with two circles. One circle represents the quarterback. The second circle represents the team. Palmer says a quarterback should list all of his qualities in his circle and list the things the team needs to work on in the second circle.
“What I’m talking about with this Venn diagram, if you have five things that make up who you are and five things that your team needs, the things in the middle, that’s where you’re going to invest your time, your energy, your relationships,” Palmer says. “Make sure those things are owned.”
It is important for the quarterback to separate the qualities because one of the most critical things he should avoid is being a fake leader. For instance, if a quarterback is not typically an outspoken person his teammates are going to see right through him when he tries to pump them up.
There is nothing wrong with being soft-spoken as referenced by successful stars like his retired brother Carson Palmer and current Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson. No matter how a quarterback chooses to lead, it has to be authentic. Reading the situation is important.