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Coach board

Direct. Observe. Adapt.

 

(lessons in leadership)

8 feb 2023 | by mark macLean
This weekend, the biggest sporting event of the year takes place, Superbowl LVII, and as a creative it’s always fun to see how global brands use the most expensive thirty seconds of airtime money can buy!

But, beyond the snacks, commercials, and Pepsi Halftime Show, there will be two teams going head-to-head for sixty-plus minutes trying to secure the biggest win of their lives. The irony being that two individuals who’ll have arguably the biggest impact on the game will do so without ever stepping foot on the field – the coaches.

Coaches are important in every sport, but when it comes to the gridiron, the onus of a team’s performance falls directly onto the coaching staff. Football is kind of unique in that the difference between winning and losing often comes down to the coach’s ability to break down game tape, develop a winning strategy, assemble the roster, call the plays, and adapt on the fly to the circumstances of the game.

Like chess masters, coaches direct, observe, and adapt to outmaneuver their opponent, get the win, and this Sunday, raise the Lombardi Trophy!

When I was promoted to Creative Director here at Insight Studio about eighteen months ago, I was confident in my ability to live up to the ‘creative’ part of my title, but transitioning from ‘player’ to ‘coach’ (an exciting new challenge) definitely came with some anxiety. I questioned my leadership experience and lacked any formal training. So, I looked for inspiration from where I received strong leadership in the past. Sports.

Skill development, constructive feedback, building confidence and instilling a winning attitude, are characteristics, beliefs, and lessons learned from some of my most influential coaches. In fact, the similarities between business and sport don’t end there. Both are competitive, depend on strong leadership, and require the team to evolve and improve in order to keep their fans happy!

coach board and whistle

The past six months have been some of the most challenging for me as a leader. As a company, we were feeling the effects of growing too fast, so we took time to audit and address the problems. Essentially we needed to rebuild the plane while still flying it. We introduced new processes to better service our clients. We reviewed our values, offerings, and client list. We reevaluated our company structure, which led to removing chairs from our table, and shifting team members into new roles. It was a lot.

But, like any sports franchise, rebuilds are inevitable. A team could have a certain identity or be known for a specific style of play, but with new leadership comes new vision, approach, expectations, and goals. In 2022, Insight Studio was in rebuild mode.

In February 2023, we’re still early into the new year – the new season. Our goal? Win a championship. Are we the championship material? We’re well on our way. Are we done evolving and growing? Hell no.

We are starting to see the fruits of our labour. The momentum is real. Our team is buzzing with each new win – we’re launching our first national branded product later this month. The work has never been better, and our clients (our fanbase), seem to be quite happy with the results they’re getting.

My biggest takeaway from the last eighteen months is that strong leadership is about having the courage to live with the outcomes of your decisions. Things won’t always work out perfectly, but if you don’t make a decision, who will? There are no right or wrong ways to lead, simply varying degrees of effectiveness. So, don’t let fear or uncertainty paralyze your decision-making. Make a choice, see what happens, and based on the outcome, make your next choice. Direct, observe, and adapt.

This Sunday, while watching the game with friends, overeating, and dissecting the creative choices of each SuperBowl TV spot, take a second to appreciate the courage, patience, frustration, belief, confidence, and fortitude of each coach as they battle it out on the sidelines for their respective teams.

Mark MacLean

Mark MacLean

creative director
Combine equal parts creative & strategic thinker, pair it with a background in design & film production, and add a deep desire to move the needle for our clients and you’ve got Mark, Insight Studio’s Creative Director.
Mark MacLean

Mark MacLean

creative director
Combine equal parts creative & strategic thinker, pair it with a background in design & film production, and add a deep desire to move the needle for our clients and you’ve got Mark, Insight Studio’s Creative Director.

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