Article published by Philadelphia Business Journal on February 9, 2023.
As the Philadelphia Eagles approach their Super Bowl appearance on Sunday, what has changed from the team’s 4-11-1 season in 2020 to 14-3 in 2022?
It is said that people create success. The Eagles hired the right people.
Nick Sirianni’s emotional intelligence and people skills
Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie uses the term “emotional intelligence” when describing what he looks for in his head coach.
A December 2015 Fox Sports article is headlined, “Eagles CEO says coach following [Chip] Kelly needs people skills.” The article quotes Lurie stating, “‘You’ve got to open your heart to players and everybody you want to achieve peak performance. I would call it a style of leadership that values information and all of the resources that are provided and at the same time values emotional intelligence. I think in today’s world, a combination of all those factors creates the best chance to succeed.”
Lurie found his emotionally intelligent leader with people skills when in January 2016 he hired Doug Pederson as head coach, who took the Eagles to a Super Bowl win in 2018. He again found such a leader when in January 2021 he hired Nick Sirianni, who will make his first Super Bowl appearance on Sunday. Both Pederson and Sirianni took their teams to the Super Bowl in their second year as Eagles head coach.
“Nick Sirianni has emotional intelligence, and something even greater” reads the headline of a Dec. 14 article in the Village Voice. Eytan Shander writes:
The Philadelphia Eagles have set the gold standard for not only winning games and being the best team in football, but also showing you how much fun you can have in the process. … Their head coach has done something I never thought would be possible, showing the rest of the league that being a human being to your players can actually work.
Regardless of your profession, emotional intelligence and people skills are necessary to achieve success.
Howie Roseman’s talent and salary cap management skills
Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman has been with the team 23 seasons. Over that time, he has developed a sense of who to draft, who to trade for, what free agents to sign and how to manage within the team’s salary cap constraints and salary resources to field the best team possible.
To quote sportswriter Geoffrey Knox, “Roseman is the NFL’s most creative general manager from a salary cap perspective. The optionality he creates through various financial levers gives the Eagles maximum roster flexibility.”
Roseman took full advantage of the salary space provided after the Eagles signed second round draft pick Jalen Hurts in the 2020 NFL Draft to a four-year contract. Hurts replaced Carson Wentz in a game against the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 6, 2020 and quickly earned the position of starting quarterback.
Hurts’ compensation impact on the Eagles salary cap was $1.1 million in 2020, $1.4 million in 2021 and $1.6 million in 2022. His compensation will rise to $4.9 million in 2023. As expected for a quarterback of Hurts’ caliber, his compensation will dramatically increase when he renegotiates his contract for the 2024 season.
The pay gap between what a quarterback of Hurts’ capabilities is being paid and what he is worth provided huge opportunities for Roseman to sign the right talent needed to win this season’s National Football Conference championship and go to the Super Bowl.
Roseman is empowered by Lurie to spend the funds needed to acquire the right players. These include wide receivers DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown, providing Hurts the talented receivers that allow him to demonstrate his passing capabilities. Smith was drafted by Roseman in 2021. He acquired Brown in April 2022 in a trade with the Tennessee Titans. They each have over 1,000 receiving yards this season.
Roseman signed free agent outside linebacker Haason Reddick in March 2022. This season, Reddick tied for second in the NFL with 16 sacks. He had two sacks in the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, including the sack in which 49er quarterback Brock Purdy was inadvertently injured, in part leading to an Eagles win.
What lessons for all organizations does the Eagles’ success demonstrate? Jim Collins in his iconic leadership book “Good to Great” was right when he wrote, “[Get] the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus).” Hire the right people. You won’t regret the money you spend to do so. Paraphrasing Collins, the right people will take your organization someplace great.
Stan Silverman is founder of Silverman Leadership and author of “Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success.” He is also a speaker, advisor and widely read nationally syndicated columnist on leadership. He can be reached at Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com.