4 Leadership Lessons from the Super Bowl Blackout

The cause of the 34 minute Blackout during Super Bowl XLVII at the Superdome in New Orleans is still unconfirmed, as of this writing. However, there are already lessons for leaders to take away. Here are 4 leadership lessons from the Super Bowl blackout:

Flashlight in a Blackout

1. Failures May Occur Even with the Best Planning

Months before the Super Bowl, there was a study commissioned to assess the facilities. That study resulted in a large investment, including electrical supply enhancements, to avoid precisely such an incident. Regardless of the study and enhancements, there was still an issue with the power.

Lesson: It’s important to realize that regardless of how well you plan, failures may still occur. Prepare for the unexpected with backup plans, people and resources.

2. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Whatever the cause of the electrical outage, only half the stadium was impacted. Had the entire stadium blacked out, the danger and risks to fans, players and everyone there would have been much greater.

Lesson: Commitment and focus to a plan or deliverable is great. However, to minimize risks, spread investments to include at least one backup option.

3. When You’re Confident, Share It

Shortly after the blackout, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reassured the New Orleans community that hosted the Super Bowl, reflecting that the power outage would not hurt their chances for hosting future Super Bowls. Goodell stated, “I fully expect that we will be back here for Super Bowls.”

Lesson: Do not fake confidence. However, if you have confidence in people, processes or communities, reveal that confidence promptly.

4. A Failure to Some is Opportunity to Others

The blackout was not bad for everyone.  4 minutes after the blackout started, most of the 108 Million people watching the game were still trying to figure out what happened. According to Twitter Ads, enterprising individuals were already bidding on advertising for the search term, “power outage”.

Lesson: When bad things happen, ask, “what is the opportunity?”

We may not know exactly what caused the blackout, but we know there are lessons from the experience. The next time you experience a blackout of your own, remember these lessons and see how you can best serve your stakeholders in the time of need.


Picture of Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

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