If you've read some of my past articles, you absolutely know that I'm a sports fan. I've always been a participant as well as an observer. I believe in keeping a VERY active lifestyle. But I digress!

Along with many people (male and female) in the U.S., I'm an unabashed NFL fan. I cheer for the Washington Redskins, but I'm much more a fan of specific individuals. Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Greg Olson are among my favorite players. Pete Carroll, (former coach) Tony Dungy and Mike Tomlin are among my favorite coaches. The only common threads that exist among these people are their authenticity, resilience, perseverance and spirit of community service. I've researched each of these people's "stories" in depth, because I'm fascinated by the pursuit of excellence in any field. I believe that success in team sports and team success in business are analogous.

Being a Redskins fan, I pay particular attention to developments among players and coaches there, looking for leadership (or lack thereof) nuggets, which brings me to my subject: Robert Griffin III, Aaron Rodgers and some lessons they can provide you.

Robert Griffin III was the 'Skins phenom rookie quarterback in 2012. Having won the Heisman Trophy at Baylor, having graduated 7th in his class and coming from a disciplined, respectful military family, RGIII went on to win NFL Rookie of the year. Two concerns that coaches and scouts had before the NFL draft his senior year in college: He was an undisciplined quarterback (lots of athletic skill but not much disciplined "quarterback intelligence"), and he had blown out a knee in college requiring ACL surgery with a protracted rehab.

Griffin dazzled during his first year in the NFL and took the Redskins to the playoffs for the first time in five years. In a midseason game, he injured his knee (the same knee on which he had surgery in college) but kept playing. In his first playoff game against the Seahawks, he once again tore his ACL, again requiring surgery.

When RGIII came back, he was not the same guy. He attempted to learn and perform in coach Mike Shanahan's system. That required a bit less athleticism but a lot more brainpower. He was unsuccessful. The Redskins benched him after their preseason games in 2015 and moved on with great success to Kirk Cousins.

I spoke to several people who would know about Griffin's inability or disinclination to work in a more cerebral system. Each said that team management believed he would come back post-surgery, learn to be an NFL quarterback rather than a free-wheeler and be successful. Why? Because they believed that he had the intelligence to do that. "Look at his college grades," one person admonished. Robert Griffin was "book smart."

Aaron Rodgers grew up in California where he did well in school and was an undersized quarterback. He scored over 1300 on his SAT (when a perfect score was 1600). The combination of his football performance and academic performance led him to believe that he'd be highly recruited. His slight body (at the time) overrode his attributes and virtually no schools recruited him. Rodgers desperately wanted to develop as a football player, and he enrolled at a community college to hone his skills; he performed superbly. That led to a scholarship at The University of California at Berkeley where he again performed brilliantly and was expected to be one of the first three choices in the NFL draft. He was drafted twenty-fourth by the Packers, which was a great disappointment that further sharpened his "edge."

As a Packer, Rodgers sat on the bench for three years behind Brett Favre who gave him little attention. When asked about that, Favre said, "It's not my job to train the guy who may take my place." When he eventually got the starting job in 2008, he was not a popular guy. Fans in Green Bay shouted, "We want Brett," as Rodgers initially struggled. A few years later, Rodgers took the Packers to the Super Bowl, which they won. He also won the league MVP award twice and is a lock to be voted into the Hall of Fame when he retires.

Some vital information about Rodgers' Intelligence BEYOND classroom smarts: He won celebrity Jeopardy last year, easily topping astronaut and physicist Mark Kelly and venture capitalist Kevin O'Leary. Per people that know him, that victory came down to "his intelligence and reflexes" (i.e. an ability to process information quickly and click the buzzer fast). Both of which are critical attributes for a quarterback.

In addition to needing only two days to memorize his college playbook (which he did), Rodgers has a quick, integrative mind. He can process lots of diverse information, integrate it into a cohesive whole, make a decision as to what to do with that cohesive whole, and take action with that decision almost instantaneously. "Classroom smart" may be a necessary component of quarterback success; "performance quick" is even more so.

Here's what this means for you: Most of us think of "strengths" and "weaknesses" in very general terms. I hear CEOs ALL THE TIME describe people (for example) as being "smart," as having "people skills," or being "analytical." Those are abstract terms that are useless when it comes to personal development. Robert Griffin is smart; so is Aaron Rodgers. In order to really understand the application and utility of each of their intelligence, one must be able to describe what each is able to DO!

When an executive tells me that one of his/her associates is (again, for example) not a good collaborator, I ask the following: "When he is not being a good collaborator, what is he doing that he should stop doing, and what is he not doing that he should start doing?" If the executive says: "In staff meetings, he intimidates people," I ask the same two questions again, until we get to the root of the issue in terms that are behavioral, action-oriented, specific and granular.

Redskins management should have known that integrative thinking and processing speed were not among Robert Griffin's strengths when they charged him with leading an offense that was complex and wouldn't depend solely on athleticism. YOU should know your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of the people who report to you, in finite detail, or your development initiatives will be wasted.

Copyright 2016 Rand Golletz. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Rand Golletz is the managing partner of Rand Golletz Performance Systems, a leadership development, executive coaching and consulting firm that works with senior corporate leaders and business owners on a wide range of issues, including interpersonal effectiveness, brand-building, sales management, strategy creation and implementation. For more information and to sign up for Rand's free newsletter, The Real Deal, visit http://www.randgolletz.com