Legendary University of Michigan coach Bo Schembechler wrote a book (along with John U. Bacon) about the fundamentals of leadership called “Bo’s lasting lessons”. The book’s first chapter begins with what Schembechler believes to be the most important factor in being a leader.
“Let’s start with first things first: passion,” Schembechler wrote. “Because without that, nothing else I’m going to tell you in this book is going to be worth a damn. It just won’t do you any good. Because the fact is, you’re never going to be able to lead others effectively unless you put your whole heart into what you’re doing. If it’s just a job to you, it’s going to be just a job to them. And trust me: You’re not going to fool them.”
Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell’s passion for his job shines through every time he speaks. We have already witnessed this in multiple entertaining press conferences and interviews, but in the team’s latest installment of “Inside the Den: Behind the scenes with the Detroit Lions”, we get to see this attribute shine through in less formal settings.
If the offseason video series is new to you, the premise is to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at the happenings in Allen Park, as well as a unique perspective on the individuals who impact the organization. The Lions’ video team does a tremendous job of highlighting the important news surrounding the team in a concise manner, coupled with video, voice overs, and a terrific music score.
In episode one of the 2021 season series, the video recaps the big moves of the offseason, hiring Brad Holmes as the team’s general manager and Campbell as their coach, the coaching staff assembled, as well as the “blockbuster trade” of Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff and draft pick compensation.
In addition to the news recap, the video features a trip to the Ford Rouge Assembly Plant where Campbell gets a tour of the facility and interacts with employees. It doesn’t take long before Campbell’s passion shines through.
“You think about it from the perspective of when you were there,” Campbell said about how being a former player impacted his leadership style. “So, when I was here (as a player), what worked for me? Who could push me and why could they push me? How could they push buttons without making me snap?
“So, how do you build that relationship, where they trust you and believe in you before you even get to the nuts and bolts of technique, scheme, all those things. Why don’t you build a relationship with the person first, and then let’s get to the other stuff. Because usually, you can get what you want out of a player if the believe you and they trust you.”
In the following scene, Campbell’s was asked to speak to a few select employees in a conference room, but once again, it wasn’t long before his passion took over. Campbell began the meeting seated and conversing, but when he got on the subject of Detroit, the fans, and adversity, he couldn’t sit still. After only a few moments on the topic, Campbell rose his feet, his arms began to move with intent, his language became more laid back, and his affection for the fanbase shined through.
In the third act of the video takes place back in Allen Park with the arrival of Goff and we get a few quick glimpses of how several of the position coaches follow Campbell’s lead and allow their passion to shine through—specifically wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El at the 13:38 mark.
The Lions coaching and front office staff is unique in its design. With former NFL players at every level, there is a different demeanor in Allen Park than fans have seen in recent years and with it comes that key element: passion.
To watch the entire Inside the Den Episode 1, click on the video below. (and if the video doesn’t play, use this link to watch).