Lessons in Honesty and Integrity or Lack Thereof from Johnny Manziel

gritBeing a supporter of Texas A&M with a daughter currently going there, part of me wants to see Johnny Manziel turn around his NFL career.  However, I also think that he has been given several chances and just can’t seem to get out of his own way.  His antics off the field show that he isn’t taking the opportunities as seriously as he should.  His most recent big mistake was lying about partying during the Brown’s bye week.  Here are some of the things we can learn and hopefully he will learn from this:

  1. Covering up your mistakes is almost always going to be punished more harshly than owning up to them.  He is benched right now not because he was partying in Austin but because he flat out lied to his coaches about it in an attempt to cover it up.  I have seen this time and time again in my professional career as well.  Sadly, some people never seem to break out of the CYA (cover your a$$) cycle of mistakes and consequences.
  2. When you are given an opportunity to show your commitment that is the time to double down on your focus to the team and your job.  Manziel was just named the starter coming off of a strong performance against the Steelers heading into the bye week.  Instead of studying game film of the Ravens and showing focus in the bye week he decided to “shut it down” and ended up partying in Austin, TX.  It’s really important to recognize that when your organization asks you to step up that you seize the opportunity and make the most of it.  That is definitely not the time to take a break or do anything but prepare to help your organization win.
  3. What he did was more than just a cover up of his mistake.  He flat out lied to his boss.  If you do that in your professional career you can certainly expect consequences.  Depending on the lie, you might end up getting fired.  In any event you better believe that once you have violated the trust of your boss it’s going to take quite a bit of time and demonstrations of honesty/integrity to regain it.
  4. Sometimes we focus on the wrong things.  In Manziel’s case he was worried about getting caught partying.  Sure, the team wouldn’t have been thrilled about that but they could have gotten over it.  Thankfully, he didn’t end up getting in trouble with the law or anything too crazy while partying (except demonstrating bad rapping skills).  Manziel took something that could have been excused and made it way worse for himself than it needed to be.  He said the video could have been old (really???).  The lesson here is to not try to shift focus from the mistake to something else.  We all make mistakes and have a fairly high tolerance for others that make mistakes.
  5. Without integrity and honesty you will never have trust.  Especially as a quarterback/team leader for the team to follow you and the organization to trust you, you have to earn that trust.  If you continuously let them down then you are almost certainly headed toward getting let go.  Extremely talented players/employees can sometimes get away without honesty and integrity but they won’t be trusted and at best they will simply be tolerated.

I do hope that Manziel will learn from this most recent mistake.  Honesty and integrity need to mean something and if he can’t see that then I have significant doubts about his ability to make it as an NFL quarterback.  In reality, I would say the same thing applies to anyone with any role in any organization.  We all need to place a higher level of importance on maintaining and rewarding honesty and integrity.  If we have employees that need reminded of that maybe they should take a look at what has happened to Manziel.  He went from being the named starter for the rest of the season to the third string quarterback and rightfully so.