organizational culture

Defense Wins Championships but Slows Growth

1024 576 David DeWolf

Defense wins championships. Why? Because it stifles growth. If your opponent doesn’t score, there is no way for them to beat you. A good defense usually slows the tempo of a game. This typically results in lower offensive output for both teams, not just the winner.

Take some of the most stifling defenses in the NFL during the Super Bowl era.

  • The 1976 Steelers gave up 8.5 points per game and are widely recognized as one of the best defenses of all times. The Steelers and their opponents averaged 17.1 points per game in 1976. The league average? 19.2 points per game.
  • In 1985 the Bears defense gave up 12.4 points per game while their offense scored 28.5 per game. Despite the extra possessions they gained due to their league-leading turnover differential of 23, their offense only scored one touchdown more per game than the league average (the average team scored 21.5 points per game).
  • The 2000 Ravens allowed 10.3 points per game. Their offense only scored 20.8 per game – nearly identical to the average team in the league that year – which scored 20.7 points per game.

Contrary to what may seem like common sense, a great defense seems to slightly hinder, not help, offensive input. On the other hand, a great offense accelerates scoring, quickly giving the other team new opportunities to score.

Defensiveness in leadership does the same thing. It stifles growth. In order for an organization to grow, a free flow of ideas is essential. A defensive leader often discourages information flow and quiets those around him.

On the other hand, a leader who accepts and openly shares feedback with others will promote information sharing and continuous improvement.

Strong leaders listen and accept critical feedback without defending themselves or their position. They encourage others to do the same.