Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends. We’re so glad you could attend. Come inside, come inside… Rest assured you’ll get your money’s worth, the greatest show in heaven, hell or earth.
It’s not every day I reference Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but I couldn’t find a more fitting quote to describe what’s been happening with the New York Jets, an organization that can best be described these days as a circus.
In their latest act, the Jets are demonstrating how not to conduct a search for a general manager. After a disappointing season, team owner Woody Johnson — who is also great-grandson of Robert Wood Johnson — announced he was firing GM Mike Tannenbaum. The move came as no surprise. It’s clear that changes need to be made to restore some order to a team that just three years ago seemed headed for the Super Bowl.
It would seem that a GM job with a high-profile team would be a coveted position. But there’s a catch — in fact, there are several. First, right off the bat the new GM would have to clean up the salary cap mess the Jets find themselves in (the team is $19 million over the ceiling), and more than $8 million is tied up with struggling QB Mark Sanchez, who was given a contract extension despite putting together a sub-par 2011 season. Not the ideal starting conditions for a GM.
Oh yeah, and there’s one other thing. The coach you’ll be working with is Rex Ryan, one of the most polarizing, controversial figures in football. And the team’s owner loves him — so much, in fact, that he held a press conference/love fest to reassure that Ryan’s job was safe, and that he had his full support. So not only can’t the new GM choose his own coach, but he’ll be working with a coach that has a great deal of pull with the owner, according to the NY Daily News.
I couldn’t help but think, what GM worth his salt would want this job? If there was a classified ad, it would read, ‘Come join our circus!’ A few sports commentators have suggested that anyone who pursues this position must be pretty weak. After all, who walks into a situation where they know their hands are going to be tied?
But then I thought, maybe they have it all wrong. Maybe it takes a thick-skinned person to be willing to take on such a big challenge. It made me think of an interview I did last year with Ron Strachan, CIO at Community Health Network in Indianapolis.
He was walking into a scenario where Epic had just been selected and the organization was preparing for an overhaul — one that was going to be led by the clinical side of the house, and not IT. Strachan, an experienced CIO and project manager, was told all of this upfront, and he easily could have walked away. But he chose to accept the challenge.
“What I was being asked to do is quite a bit different, which was part of what was appealing about taking this job,” he said. “While it might be uncomfortable as I adapt to what’s being asked, it’s really an opportunity to develop a new set of skills.”
Strachan stepped out of his comfort zone and into new territory, and he’s a better person and leader for having done it. It shows that you can’t be too quick to judge an opportunity — maybe it’ll turn out to be a great challenge that helps define your career, or maybe you’ll be stuck in a circus.