Standing on the steps waiting for my car, I turned to my left and found myself standing next to Jamey Rootes, President of the Houston Texans. I summed up the courage to introduce myself and ask if he would be open to sharing his thoughts on what it took to engage top-performing people. I figured that someone leading a professional sports organization would have insight on leading exceptional talent. Jamey smiled and graciously invited me to visit his office. That was the first C Suite leadership interview I conducted, and one that I have referred to most often in programs I’ve conducted on developing world-class leadership strategies.


The Houston Texans organization embraces the word IMPACT:


I           Innovation
M         Memorable
P          Passionate
A          Accountable
C          Courage
T          Team player


One of my favorite topics from that visit was the importance of creating memorable moments. It is a challenge we face as leaders and more importantly, I believe, at home.


At the end of 2019, I reached back out to Jamey to readdress some of the topics we had previously discussed and invited him to share his views on my podcast Strategies for Tomorrow’s Leaders. Jamey spoke at length on shaping culture by the people selected, hiring for culture matches.


Is your culture one of not just customer service, but rather, exceptional customer service? Where has someone exhibited that mindset set, that wiring?


Is a sense of urgency part of the department nerve center? When interviewing, does the candidate have examples of an urgent response mentality?


What struck me in our discussion was the importance a professional football organization had on the belief within a team. Not just on the field. The role of leaders and every employee focuses on how can I serve the customer and just as important, each other?


As the interview drew to a close, I asked for a final message to those who are growing their leadership chops. He asked one simple question: “As a leader, can you handle open dialog?” We shut down communication and cause disengagement (at work AND at home) when people have views that might be different than ourselves. To truly engage and create impact in relationships calls for us to be open to other thoughts and ideas rather than pursue our own agendas.


I chose this podcast to launch the new year as I believe Jamey’s focus, and that of the Texans’ operations team, on driving organizational excellence could serve as a catalyst for you to make 2020 a breakthrough year. His final message was a challenge to not measure against others, but rather what’s the best we’ve ever done?!




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