Rumor Has It...
Too often, leaders will issue a vague statement saying they have no interest in any job other than their present one.
It’s a timeless mid-season tradition in sports. A coach at a big-name program is fired, and rumors start swirling about his/her replacement.
Except the marquee potential successors are currently coaching at another competitive program and are now forced to address the whispers.
There are three main aspects that leaders need to keep in mind when handling rumors about a next job or future offer:
We can never simply ignore the gossip, because silence will only allow it to spread faster while creating additional trust issues within our current team. Instead, we need to focus on damage control and confront it without lying.
Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin knows how to handle — and destroy — a rumor. He did so masterfully when reports came out weeks ago that he was in the running for the University of Southern California coaching job.
Visibly-annoyed, Tomlin told reporters that he had “one of the best jobs in professional sports” and added, “There’s not a booster with a big enough blank check” to peak his interest in becoming a college coach. He made clear that day would be the last time he addressed the situation, before storming away from the podium.
Tomlin ended any turmoil within the Steelers and prevented any further team distractions.
Open and shut.
Too often, though, leaders will issue a vague statement saying they have no interest in another job. But around their team, they’ll have one foot already out the door.
They’ll change their normal routine by not coming in as early and will have a ton of closed-door meetings. They’ll spend time away from their personnel and show their top priority is clearly elsewhere. The team then senses the change, and performance deteriorates.
If the rumors are, in fact, true or at least have the potential to be, we must acknowledge their existence, talk about time and place, and then work twice as hard on the job at hand.
The present is not the moment to discuss the next job. We must at the very least convince those we lead that we’re going to work harder than ever to complete the task at hand — one day at a time.
We must remember that our next employer will also be watching closer than ever — and if we bail on our current team, it implies we could potentially do so with our next.
We can’t allow the future to disrupt the present — we owe it to our followers to give it our all — even if a better opportunity lies in wait. When the season is completed, that becomes the time to discuss the future, not a second before.
In either case, our actions and words must be equally aligned.
And the most important time for it is now.