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Situational Leadership from the top of the New York Giants

By: Pat Salemo, Partner Meliora Consulting Group

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The New York Giants were not supposed to be here. They finished 4-13 a year ago and were tied for the worst record in the NFL the previous 5 seasons at 22-59 according to Statmuse. The Giants hired rookie head coach Brian Daboll (fourth head coach hire since Tom Coughlin retired in 2015) and general manager Joe Schoen from the Buffalo Bills organization to turn things around. This year was projected to be a development year with Vegas projecting the Giants to go 7-10 and miss the playoffs. Instead, they finished the regular season 9-7-1, and are in the second round of the playoffs. There are likely several reasons for the improvement in results, but one particularly stands out: culture.

Since taking the reins as head coach, Brian Daboll has worked on changing the culture. He has displayed trust in his playmakers all season such as the time he opted to go for a 2-point conversion with a little over a minute left on the road Week 1 instead of settling for the tie against the Tennessee Titans. Then there was the moment at the end of the New York Giants-Minnesota Vikings during Super Wild Card Weekend where Daboll performed a lesson in leadership. With the Giants up by seven late in the game, Daniel Jones threw a pass to leading receiver, Darius Slayton, who proceeded to drop the catch. This was one that would have allowed the Giants to lock in a victory by subsequently running out the clock. Instead, the Giants were forced to punt the ball giving Minnesota one more shot. Slayton, visibly upset with himself, threw his helmet as he walked to the bench. Head coach, Brian Daboll, pulled Slayton aside and told him We’re going to need you.” This supporting behavior speaks to the team culture that he is trying to instill and fits the Situational Leadership Model by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard.

The Situational Leadership Model covers four leadership styles: directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating. Directing is used for lower competency individuals whereas coaching is used for those with low to medium competency, and with only three drops in the regular season, this style would not be appropriate. Slayton is highly competent and was in need the support to bring back his commitment. The Giants face a tall task on the road against the top seeded Eagles and will need Slayton to have a chance against the team that has beaten them twice in the regular season. Business leaders can learn from this example by adapting and applying the appropriate leadership styles to achieve desired results.

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For more information, please go to or contact Pat Salemo, LSSMBB at

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