Packers' CEO Conveys Keys to Leadership Success
When Green Bay Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy spoke to students at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Thursday, part of his message focused on three of his father's "pearls of wisdom."
"My father used to say things like, 'No pain, no gain,'" Murphy said. "I didn't always understand what he meant." However, a few of the elder Murphy's statements stuck: don't burn bridges, build them; don't sweat the small stuff; and the harder you work the luckier you get.
To further illustrate the point of not burning bridges, Murphy used an example from his days as NFL Players Association representative for the Washington Redskins. Amid intense collective bargaining negotiations during the NFL strike of 1982, Murphy was on the side of the players and Paul Tagliabue was a young attorney representing the NFL owners. Even though the two were at opposite ends of the bargaining table, Murphy and Tagliabue kept their relationship professional and became friends.
"When I was being considered for the position as president of the Green Bay Packers, I know one of the people they talked to was Paul Tagliabue," Murphy said. Tagliabue had risen to commissioner of the NFL and the bridge Murphy did not burn some 25 years earlier proved beneficial.
Murphy was at UW-Parkside as Executive in Residence for the College of Business, Economics, and Computing. He spoke with more than 200 students during two morning presentations and also met with UW-Parkside faculty, foundation board members and business advisory board members.
During his presentations, and answers to audience questions, Murphy shared key tactics to building a championship organization.
In particular, he cited a management and communication style he first encountered with former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs. The acronym for Gibbs' style is MBWA - management by wandering around. Murphy said that some organizational leaders say they have an open-door policy, but that does not always lead to effective two-way communication. "I was captain of the defense and Joe would walk around, stop by my locker and ask me what was going on with the team," Murphy said. The MBWA technique is something Murphy employs today with his senior management.
After a successful college career at Colgate University where he played football, basketball and baseball, Murphy signed with Washington in 1977. He played for eight seasons, appeared in two Super Bowls, and earned his M.B.A. by attending night classes and summer sessions. He served as executive director of the NFL Players Association, earned a law degree and worked for the U.S. Justice Department. Murphy also spent 16 years as athletics director for Colgate University and later Northwestern University. He took over as president of the Packers in December 2007.
Murphy's guidance has helped keep the team successful both on and off the field. On the field, the team has compiled a 46-24 overall record, made three straight playoff trips, and won Super Bowl XLV. Off the field, the club continues to perform well in its business efforts. The fan experience at Lambeau Field, a top organizational priority, continues to rank among the best in sports.