When Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio gave a 45-minute speech on Wednesday to attendees at the Michigan State school of business, he was just that: All business.
During the presentation, Dantonio gave folks a glimpse into the professional mindset he has of being a no-frills, no-nonsense leader. Surrounded by individuals interested in business and those hoping to be future leaders in the economy, Dantonio offered a rare look at how he himself has dealt with adversity and conflict within his own teams over the years.
Dantonio’s players are young, inexperienced in life, and completely-full of machismo, but still, it isn’t too far-fetched to think of these athletes as being co-workers sitting around a conference table during an office meeting; and the wisdom shared by Dantonio was not only interesting in relation to the Spartans’ program, but in life, as well.
“We have fights, we have issues,” Dantonio said. “How do we deal with it?
“When two guys get in a fight, we have them run around the field until they are tired and then we make them sit beside each other.”
Now, would this work in the boardroom? Probably not. You’d have a Human Resources rep on the case faster than you could snap a football, but the idea of a smooth transition from conflict itself back into the “group mentality”, is a transferable quality.
Looking at a problematic issue that could arise as being more of a “boss-employee” type of conflict, Dantonio also had ways to deal with that, as well; from a coach-player standpoint.
“If it’s a player-coach problem, you need to take it in (player goes to the locker room), and we’ll talk after practice,” Dantonio said. “No reason to stop everything going on and say, ‘let’s talk about this.’
“The coach is always right on the field, but you take a step back, and often it resolves itself.”
In the end, Dantonio credits his ability to be an attentive listener and someone willing to hear an individual out as his strong suits for being a leader; whether that be a leader of a football program, a corporation, or in government. If you can listen from the get-go, you might be able to avoid conflict for the most part.
“There are times there is conflict, I listen, and at the end of the day, I have to make a decision,” Dantonio said. “You do the best you can to be fair and listen and give people your undivided attention.”
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.