8 Great Leadership Tips from the Dallas Cowboys Assistant Head Coach

Jason GarrettJason Garrett spoke to a group of 200 at a formal dinner and his soft demeanor caught me off guard. I was expecting a tough football voice. It was a welcomed difference. It came across as humbling, not weak. He spoke well, with a slight tinge of enthusiasm.


The new guard, as I like to call it, seems to be popular throughout the football league. These forward thinking coaches use many techniques to will their players to their best. Tony Dungy is at the forefront of this movement. He believes that you don’t need to yell and scream to get your point across. Football players are people who want to be treated with respect and kindness.


Jason Garrett’s 8 lessons of leadership:


  1. He talked about coaching Terrell Owens, a future Hall of Fame receiver, who is known to be a difficult player. He said that he told him (a Hall of Fame receiver) and the rest of the team that no matter who was on the field they would be coached.

Lesson – Learn from everyone around you because there is always something to improve.


  1. Give people purpose. Tell people their role and recognize them for their work.

Lesson – We all need to feel appreciated.


  1. When I’m on the field and my team is exhausted I go out there and become a cheerleader. I let them know whether they have cool shoes or if they are doing a good job working their butt off.

Lesson – Create a positive atmosphere by being a cheerleader when someone is having a bad day.


  1. Success is 54% body language, 40% tone of voice, and 6% words. I don’t know how Jimmy Johnson got those numbers, but it explains why he was able to create such a passionate team. When he spoke to us he got us excited and ready to win.

Lesson – Use your body and voice to convey confidence.


  1. Even if you think they are dragging their feet and breathing hard, you can always tell them that oxygen is good for the soul, so keep up the good work.

Lesson – Someone is always doing something right. Recognize that and give them positive feedback.


  1. When looking to bring someone new on to your team make sure you look at his character. You can’t teach character, but you can teach competency

Lesson – Hire motivated people.


  1. Nick Saban the great college coach always told us, “Tell me when we are making a mistake, so we can fix it.” Every time I or one of the other coaches told him something that we were doing wrong, he would bite our heads off. (laughing) It was always one of the most uncomfortable moments to be in.

Lesson – Make sure you follow your own advice otherwise no one will be willing to help you.


  1. Tony Romo (Quarterback for Dallas) told me that he wanted to run a “Three wide split.” I thought to myself that is the stupidest play. Their defense is perfectly designed to stop that. I wasn’t sure what to call because it was something like 3rd and 20, so I called it. Tony looked back at me and I could tell he was smiling. The throw went to Owens and he scored a touchdown.

Lesson – Let people do what they think is right because they’ll make it happen.


My co-worker wasn’t as enthused by the football references, but as Jason continued to speak he won her over. She was impressed by his talk. We can learn about working happy from anyone if we just take a moment to listen and put their words into action.


Does anyone have any good sports references that can be applied to working happier?

3 thoughts on “8 Great Leadership Tips from the Dallas Cowboys Assistant Head Coach”

  1. Good sports references that can be applied to working happier? Just two quick ideas: (1) choose a sport (job/company) you like. If you love a solitary sport like track, being a quarterback for an NFL team isn’t going to bring out your best. (2) Move your body. You’ll feel better.

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