As a part of the Voices of Experience speaker series at the Daniels College of Business, Denver Broncos President Joe Ellis offered an unfiltered look at the management decisions NFL executives are forced to make daily. A crowd of more than 800 students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members packed the University of Denver’s Gates Concert Hall Oct. 17 for an interview with Ellis conducted by 9News journalist Greg Moss.
Q: What management style do you find to be the most effective in the Broncos organization?
A: You have to hire the right people and empower them to do their job by giving them the tools they need to succeed. You also need to practice clear, honest communication — but most of all, you have to have fun with your job.
Q: What allows the Broncos front office to work effectively together, and how has [quarterback] Peyton Manning impacted the overall leadership chemistry within the organization?
A: Peyton Manning elevates everyone in the building because of his passion and commitment. He has an enormous capacity for concentration — he’s dialed in, all the time. His attention to detail makes everyone work a little harder. [Head coach] John Fox is a very clear communicator as well; the players know exactly what is expected of them. I think that’s one of the reasons his teams play consistently week in and week out. Fox always says, “Be understated and overproduce.” Peyton Manning is effective because he exhibits how important things are to him in terms of preparation. Our practices are intense sessions. Every practice and preparing for every game is important. The kind of example he sets is astonishing. The players also take their craft seriously, and they try to improve each and every week.
Q: How do you approach conflict resolution, internally and externally?
A: When things don’t work out [personnel-wise], you’ve got to act quickly. When fans start voting with their feet, you know you’ve got to make a change. The thing that surprises me the most in this position is the never-ending support that the Denver community gives our football team—through our ups and our downs. I would like to [repay them] by hosting and winning an AFC championship at Mile High—the fans deserve that.
Q: How do you select the right leaders to work in the Broncos organization?
A: In the interview process, we hire an outside consultant who has expertise in psychological tendencies. He can ask the right questions about how someone is going to behave and perform under pressure. [When hiring a new head coach,] it was helpful to understand the complete package of characteristics that different candidates bring to the table — not a lot of other teams do that.
The Voices of Experience speaker series brings CEOs and significant leaders to the University of Denver campus to share insights about effective management in today’s competitive business landscape. On Nov. 11, the Daniels College of Business will present IDEO co-founder Tom Kelley, bestselling author of “The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation.” Students, alumni and community members may register here.