Nick Saban Is a Steve Jobs-Type Control Freak: Exhibit 63

The sports world follows the business world in a lot of ways.  There’s talent considerations, managing performance and more.

Oh yeah – the best leaders in sports, just like in business, are a little bit crazy.  They are crazy control freaks with a detailed plan on how domination is going to be achieved.  Think Steve Jobs.  Think the Uber guy before he came crashing down.  

In sports, consider Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

For the uninitiated, Saban is the head football coach at the University of Alabama, who has built a dominating machine in college football. Click on the link to learn more if needed/interested.  Today, I’m here give you one example from the book of Saban:

The last three games, I’ve noticed a trend.  Check out the picture to the right in this post (click through it you don’t see the photo).  Saban has a guy who has the sole job to have a cup of water ready for him when he’s thirsty/ready.  The guy is always positioned behind Saban in the manner pictured to the right.

I used to be around college athletics as a player and a coach.  When a guy like Saban dictates that level of control, there’s no doubt in my mind that the following happened:

1.  Saban works hard and wants a drink every once in a awhile.  At some point in the past, he got tired of finding said drink and instructed his operations team to have someone around with water for him.  He delegated that and allowed his staff to figure it out.

2.  It went OK for awhile, then one time Saban wanted a drink – in practice or in a game – and the solution that got put in place failed.  The person responsible for being in the general area got called away or lost attention to the task at hand, which was hydrating Saban.

3.  Saban went absolutely ####ing bananas.  To the point where he couldn’t be reasoned with.  

4.  Being the control freak many great leaders are, he came up with his own solution.  From the that point forward, an entire FTE of the athletic department will have one job – to be behind Saban with an available cup of water at all times.  I don’t know how long this has has been going on, but it’s been there for the last 3 games.

TRANSLATION: Somebody f***ed this up, and Nick Saban f***ing fixed it.  Note that this only works if you’re a leader who gets unbelievable results.  If you get average results as a leader and try and flex this level of control, you’ll be on the way out, because the people you lead will revolt.  If you’re Steve Jobs or Nick Saban, it’s accepted because you’re the best in the world at what you do.  And psycho-level control is a big part of how you built the machine.

BONUS – I know the guy holding the cup of water is black.  I don’t think it matters in this case, because my bet is that Nick picked the person who was going to hold the cup of water for him, and he picked the person he trusted the most.  While it’s poor optics for the politically correct crowd, my gut tells me whoever got selected from the ops staff – white or black – to hold Saban’s cup of water treats as a compliment they were selected.  Hell, this might even be an associate/assistant AD at Alabama, because that’s how much power Nick Saban has.

You’re playing checkers. Nick Saban is playing chess. And on the Nick Saban chess board, there’s no detail to small for control.  

Somebody f***ed this up, and Nick Saban f***ing fixed it.

This post originally appeared on The HR Capitalist
Author: Kris Dunn