You’re not likely to read many articles about players talking about how much they dislike playing for their current head coach. If you see such an article, then that player is probably getting traded or released or benched soon.
With that being said, it certainly does seem as though at least the vast majority of the men Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin leads do genuinely seem to like playing for him, and that includes this rookie class, starting with their top pick, running back Najee Harris, who appeared on Good Morning Football yesterday and, among other things, talked about what he appreciates in his head coach.
I told everybody before, Mike T is such a likeable guy, somebody that you can play with. I always love Mike because of his energy that he always brings. Even when we were at our worst, having that losing streak, he always came in and never changed. He just kept the same energy and said, ‘we’ve got to keep pushing’. He likes using the saying, ‘there’s more meat on the bone’. I never lost my goal of coming out here and winning our next couple games going into our bye week. He always keeps us motivated.
I thought his comment in the middle about how Tomlin keeping the same level of energy during their losing streak and how it affected him was interesting in particular, because it references something that Tomlin said last week—which drew some derision.
“We say appropriate things, things that would not surprise you or be interesting to you in any way”, he said last week when asked what message he had for his team during a three-game losing streak. “It’s more important what I do than what I say: the attitude, the energy that I bring to these work days; the attitude and energy that I bring to preparation. I want them to mirror that behavior in their preparation”.
Being a leader isn’t just about knowing the right things to say. You communicate a lot through your body language, the way you carry yourself, and perhaps particularly, in how your conduct varies between moods and moments. If you’re down during the down times, you’re going to take your team down with you.
Different people respond to different types of leadership—some people are simply internally driven. There are certainly plenty of valid criticisms of Tomlin and the job that he does as the head coach of the Steelers. But one thing that has rarely been fairly questioned is his ability to lead.