Episode 3 - Leadership Lessons from the Field with Troy Vincent

Redefiners Podcast
Hosted By:
September 21, 2021 | 29 min
Troy Vincent.jpg
Troy Vincent.jpg
Troy Vincent
Executive Vice President of Football Operations at the NFL

"At the end of the day, diversity is a fact. Who you are and who I am. I was born a black American. That is a fact, but inclusion is an actual choice."

The business world is rife with sports analogies. After all, there are remarkable similarities between what happens in athletics and in the boardroom. Troy Vincent is the embodiment of this parallel. As a 15-year veteran of the National Football League, he took the leadership skills he learned as a player—communication, presence, resiliency, game planning—to apply them to a position on the other side of the line as Executive Vice President of Football Operations of the NFL. It’s a game plan you’ll definitely want to study.

Here’s a taste of what you’ll hear from Troy in this episode, in his words (edited for length and clarity):

Troy’s Redefiner Moment: A tough call on a big game
In either '95 or '96 we were in preseason in Philly, and there was a decision that had to be made on whether we were going to play this exhibition game. The playing surfaces were not up to standard. We shared a stadium with the Philadelphia Phillies and at the time the surface was like turf that you put on your back patio. The bases and pitcher's mound had these lumps and divots. We had to make a decision thinking about the ramifications not only on the players, but also on the fans, the game day workers, everyone associated with putting on a live event.

We gathered the players first and walked the field. We said, this is dangerous. It was a huge liability to the city because the city actually owned Veterans Stadium.

It was one of many, but it was a defining moment, being young and making a decision that had a financial and a physical impact, and having to communicate with the commission, the league, and the players association to say collectively, we can't move forward. That set a precedent of how we were going to do things; that there's a way that we have to go about our business.

On what makes a great football player
Each of us was given certain talents when we were born, but skill is something that's actually controllable. The legendary Kobe Bryant used to always talk about not getting bored with the basics of the game. Those are skills like dribbling, shooting a free throw, backpedaling, catching, throwing. So when I think about a skill, those are things that can be enhanced with repetition. We say skill beats talent, in particular when talent is not willing to work.

On creating more diversity on the business side of sports
When you hear someone say, there's no pipeline, that is the farthest thing from the truth. That's an excuse. The pipeline has always been there for men, women, you name it. Leaders have  just begun thinking about who they’re giving opportunities to. Is it a fair and equal process? If you bring in ten people, those ten people should be a very diverse slate, and not just diverse in color.

At the end of the day, diversity is a fact. Who you are and who I am. I was born a black American. That is a fact, but inclusion is a choice. Who I include in the hiring process, who I'm going to interview. Diversity, equity, and now inclusion—it's messy and it's necessary messiness. Why? To get to the place where you want to be. Every company has to define what that looks like, how to get there, and who they're getting there with.



Troy Vincent
Executive Vice President of Football Operations at the NFL

Troy Vincent is the Executive Vice President of Football Operations at the National Football League, beginning his football career as the 7th overall pick in the first round for the Miami Dolphins in the 1992 NFL Draft. After 15 seasons of playing in the league, Troy continues to be nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Philadelphia Eagles, the State of Pennsylvania, the University of Wisconsin and Pennsbury High School.

In his current position with the NFL, he employs the highest standards to enhance and preserve football and its value to society. His transformational and visionary leadership approach promotes using the game of football to positively impact people’s lives through excellence and service by applying clarity, consistency and credibility to all aspects of football operations.

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If you like this episode, you may also enjoy our conversation with James D. White, former CEO of Jamba Juice and DE&I advocate.

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