Here’s a small “taste” of the presentation I shared at a recent leadership development conference. The title of the workshop was, Leadership Lessons from the Gridiron.

Contrary to the traditional stereotype of the dumb jock, athletic success requires much more than physical speed, strength, and agility. There is a great deal of mental work that goes into competing in big-time sports. To prepare for games, athletes spend hours reviewing game plans and studying film to better understand their opponents. Then, during the actual competition, athletes are required to make quick decisions based on split-second changes.

The scoreboard provides a snapshot of the game situation, and includes pertinent information to guide the decision-making process: each team’s current score, the period, the amount of time left in that period, the current position of the ball, down and distance, amount of time left to run the next play, the number of timeouts left for each team.

Even with all that information, I believe the scoreboard’s most critical element is not what’s on the scoreboard. Rather, the fact that there is a scoreboard – and that it is displayed publicly – is even more critical to the success of a team. A public scoreboard tells the entire world whether or not a team is succeeding. Players, coaches, officials, fans, cheerleaders…even the mascots know, at any given point in time, which team is winning…and losing.

Through years of athletic competition, I’ve come to understand that the public display of information is an extremely powerful motivator. The scoreboard creates a high level of accountability that “inspires” participants to do their best. I strongly believe that individuals and organizations behave differently when their actions are being viewed by others.

Think about it…What if a weekly report of your body weight was published on the Internet? What if your checking account statements or credit card statements were printed in the local newspaper? Do you think it would have an impact on your behavior?

Absolutely it would!

There’s a quote that I’ve heard a number of times throughout my business career: “Only what gets measured, gets managed.” Things that are not tracked, measured, and evaluated by others rarely receive the same level of attention as the items that do. Unfortunately, people have the tendency to cheat themselves – and their teams – by not giving full effort when they don’t have others holding them accountable.

Here’s what I’m suggesting…

Put this idea of accountability to work for you and your organization. Publish your goals and track your success on a public scoreboard. Find a way to leverage the power of public perception to help drive your organization to succeed.

I realize that this level of transparency requires a great deal of courage. Essentially, you are giving the world permission to observe, and be critical of, your efforts. However, keep in mind: the scoreboard is part of your strategy to propel you to achieve your goals.