Stop Playing Prevent Defense as a Leader

March 06, 2020

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be an aggressive leader

In football, typically when a team has a lead late in the game and the other team has the ball and may be driving, the defense may play a scheme known as ‘prevent defense’. It’s where defenders play off the ball, drop deep in coverage and basically try to keep everything in front, and not give up “big play”. The other team must drive the ball slowly and methodically down the field to score, and in doing so either run the clock down or get impatient and make a mistake. In defense logic, it’s playing it safe and trying to not lose.

Are you playing prevent defense in your lean or change leadership? Are you playing to ‘not lose’, or are you applying to win? Maybe your avoiding confrontation with someone on your team or a peer or avoiding having a difficult conversation with someone you know you need to but find reasons not to. Maybe you have a someone in the wrong seat on your team or even the wrong player that needs to be addressed for them, you, and the team, but you aren’t. Maybe you aren’t taking a risk because you are concerned about it “not going well”, or “how it would look.” So, you play prevent defense.

An alternative defensive strategy that some coordinators use in the same scenario as above is one that is aggressive. They blitz extra defenders and make the quarterback throw before he wants to quickly or they get a sack. They press up defenders on the receivers to try and force them off their route to disrupt timing with the quarterback and even go for the interception. This is riskier for sure, as they could give up a big play, or in can lead to them creating a turnover or forcing a punt to get the back. Being aggressive can put the other team on their heels and make them adapt to the added pressure of the game.

Two different approaches for the game of football. Which one are you doing in your work? Playing prevent, the slow or cautious approach, has its places and times where it may be needed. In general, you should be looking to be more aggressive. More aggressive in your decision making, confronting obstacles, dealing with people issues, and in your leadership. You should be attacking problems.

Are you playing prevent in life? Time can pass you by if you are playing to avoid losing, waiting for the right time to do things, or standing on the sideline when you should be making plays. There is a difference between being reckless and aggressive. Aggressive, like in football analogy above, is doing a timely a blitz off the edge forcing the quarterback to throw early and leading to an interception. That is surgical aggressiveness at the right time and the right approach. You should be doing the same as a leader.

Stop playing it safe, playing prevent defense and not trying to lose. Be aggressive, play offense and play to win.


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