Jerry Jones has accomplished a lot in his lifetime as a businessman. However, I’m going to focus on what we can learn from Jerry as the owner of the Dallas Cowboys.
Despite the Cowboys being one of the most mediocre football teams in the NFL, they remain one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world.
There’s no doubt that Jerry knows how to make money, but you’d think a team as valuable as the Dallas Cowboys could win a few more games.
We can learn some very important lessons from what Jerry has done with this team, good and bad.
In this article I’m going to discuss the lessons that stand out the most to me.
“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”
The first thing that stands out to me about Jerry is his unwavering confidence in his ability as General Manager.
Despite all signs pointing to a consistently poor performance, he refuses to acknowledge it.
Do What You Do Best
Jerry knows business. He bought the franchise for $140 million in 1989 and has increased the value to $3.2 billion as of 2014!
In the NFL, all 32 teams split the revenues of their merchandise – well, 31 of them actually. Guess which team is the only team that has full control of their merchandise sales? That’s right, the Cowboys.
Jerry is a master of the business side of football. He is the most publicized franchise owner in the NFL and is arguably the most influential owner in league-wide decisions.
However, Jerry is not a good GM. Plain and simple.
Has he made some good moves as GM? Sure. Has he made significantly more terrible moves? Definitely.
With all that he has accomplished while splitting duties as GM and as the owner, I can only imagine what more he could do on the business end if he gave up the GM role to someone more qualified.
The takeaway point here is to focus on what you do best.
Steve Jobs was a good engineer, but he was a great visionary and designer. On the other hand, Woz was a great engineer while lacking interest in the business side. Apple became the company it did because the founders decided to focus on their strengths, instead of trying to do everything themselves.
Hire People Better Than You
Great leaders aren’t intimidated by talent in their roster. They WANT to hire smarter people than themselves.
Jerry refuses to hire a real GM and my theory is that there are 2 primary reasons:
- He is afraid of not being in full control
- His ego can’t stand to see someone do better than him
These are 2 mistakes we can learn from.
First of all, we are never fully in control of our lives. There are always outside factors that we will never be able to control.
The same goes with our businesses. We can do our best to control them, but there is always a possibility for something unexpected to happen.
If losing a little bit of control over one aspect of your business gives you a greater chance of success, why wouldn’t you do it?
Maybe you’re hesitant to hire someone, because of a fear of losing control. Well, couldn’t you fire them if they did a bad job? Of course.
Be honest with yourself, are their roles you’re filling that you aren’t qualified for? It could be anything, from accounting to sales. Whatever it is, don’t be like Jerry.
Do what you’re best at and hire the best to do the rest. Which takes me to the second lesson here, controlling your ego.
What’s more important, the success of your business or the ego boost of being able to say you can do it all?
The best companies fill roles with the most qualified individuals. No can be the best at everything!
Look at it this way, you can hire the best to work with you or you can let someone else hire them to work against you.
Don’t limit your success. Focus on your strengths and find better people to make up for your weaknesses.
Money Can’t Always Buy Success
One of the downfalls of wealth is overestimating the power of your money.
Money definitely makes things easier in life, but it doesn’t guarantee success.
One thing that Jerry hasn’t figured out is that building a great team is better than buying a great team.
Jerry is personally responsible for the increase in the NFL salary cap and also for the ability to go over that cap while paying a penalty.
See, one advantage that Jerry has over the other franchise owners is that he has more money than a lot of them and he is willing to spend more than most of them.
However, he has proven time and time again that throwing money at players doesn’t make them play any better.
Jerry is also notorious for jumping to buy superstar free agents, without considering how they will fit with the team.
The cowboys have players with great stats, but very few wins to show for all those stats.
The takeaway here is that hiring rockstar employees means managing rockstar egos. Many times, it’s better to develop a team from within.
Another mistake that Jerry makes is throwing money at players to encourage them to do better. He’s wasted millions on contracts with players who should have really been traded instead.
People don’t improve when you reward mediocrity.
You can’t turn a mediocre employee into a great employee by giving them a raise. In fact, all you’re doing is rewarding their poor performance.
Bonuses are great incentives for employees, but they only work properly if you give them after they accomplish the goal.
The takeaway point here is to only reward what you want more of. If someone isn’t motivated when trying to earn a raise, they won’t be motivated if you give it to them anyways.
When building a company, you have to decide what’s more important – personal success or the company’s success.
If a company completely relies on you for every task, it is limited to your strengths and weaknesses.
To build something great, it has to be bigger than you. To do that, you’re going to need some help.
Focus on your strengths and find people to complement your weaknesses.
Until Next Time,
What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
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