Roger Staubach: The Importance of Teamwork On and Off the Field

by Bob Helbig

Hall of Fame Quarterback Delivers Keynote at Dallas Top Workplaces Event

 

Top Workplaces

Roger Staubach addresses the 2016 Top 100 Places to Work in Dallas

Roger Staubach knows something about teamwork. And not just when it comes to football. As the Hall of Fame quarterback points out, “My life in business has been a lot longer than in football.” The legendary Cowboys player recently spoke about teamwork in business and in life to a hometown crowd of more than 1,000 people at the Omni Dallas Hotel at the 2016 Top 100 Places to Work luncheon celebration, hosted by The Dallas Morning News.

Leader offers key plays for success

“It’s a thrill for me to say a few words, especially with all the companies that are here,” Staubach said. “Having the right people in the right places is very, very important. But having the right people in the right places working together, miracles can happen.” And who exactly are those people? “The right people are people who truly give a darn about someone other than themselves.”

Staubach developed this sense of commitment and teamwork not just playing football or serving in the military but in the real estate business. He was a late arrival to pro football, as a 27-year-old rookie with the Dallas Cowboys in 1969. The 1963 Heisman Trophy winner had served in Vietnam following his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy. Back then, even star college players such as Staubach didn’t draw huge paychecks; he had to work in the off season. “They didn’t pay quarterbacks quite what they do today,” he said.

Away from football, Staubach worked for a real estate company, focusing on marketing to sales. As his pro career took off, so did his knowledge of the business. He learned on the field and off that success requires not only collaboration but a degree of selflessness.

 

Roger Staubach speaks to The Dallas Morning News Top 100 Places to Work winners about trust & teamwork. Click To Tweet

 

Team players look beyond themselves to serve others

“You’ve got to work on the things that mean something to somebody else,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong about having an ‘It’s all about me’ day. But you don’t want to have an ‘It’s all about me’ day all of the time. You’ve got to be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes. Those are people you can trust, who really, truly try each and every day not only to think about what’s good for them but how does ‘What’s good for me’ affect somebody else. Those are team players.”

As a testament to teamwork, Staubach shared a story about his 1971 season, the year he established himself as the starting quarterback and a leader of the Cowboys. That year, Dallas started the season with a disappointing 4-3 record. Coming back on the team plane after a loss to the Chicago Bears, legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry got on the public address system, Staubach recalls, and said: “I’m sick and tired being out there watching you not playing together. You need to have a team meeting to turn this season around.”

It was kind of a shock, Staubach said, because that rhetoric wasn’t Coach Landry’s style. At that team meeting, Staubach recalls his teammate, fiery tight end Mike Ditka, saying: “We play the St. Louis Cardinals next week. I want you guys to know that I’ll be out there. I’m going to give you everything I got. And if there’s anybody in this room not doing the same for me, I’m going to know who you are. And I’m going to personally do something about it.”

“That definitely helped the bonding. We bonded. Coach Landry said at the end of the week it was the best practices we ever had. When we walked out of that room, we had a different attitude.”

Something clicked all right. The Cowboys reeled off 10 wins, culminating in a victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI. Staubach went on to lead the Cowboys to another championship in the 1977 season.

Trust is necessary to true teamwork

Toward the end of his playing career in the late 1970s, Staubach started his own company, which he ran for three decades. He sold it to Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle in 2008, and he remains an executive there today. He thinks about the qualities that helped create success in 1971 and over his years in business.

“We did it because we had the right people at the right places, and the difference was, we got everybody to work together,” he said. “I know what it takes to make sure you get that trust internally so you can transfer it to your customers. Getting that trust internally requires a lot of teamwork.”