The talk of the Super Bowl has been the sideline antics of Kansas City Chiefs player Travis Kelce. After Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco fumbled the ball, Travis Kelce purposely bumped into Coach Andy Reid and yelled “Coach, I sure would enjoy some more playing time!” or something like that before being pulled away by a teammate. Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy was caught on camera just before the outbreak with a warning for his offensive players: “Emotions [are high] right now, just stick together. We got each other,” Nagy said. “That’s who we are. We talked last night about being us and being champions. These are the moments where it doesn’t get too big. Stick together.”

The outburst has been categorized as “passion” and “part of the game” by some, while others have vilified it as highly inappropriate and telling of Kelce’s true nature. He was asked about the incident right after the Super Bowl. “Oh you guys saw that? Man, it was…I’m going to keep that between us unless my mic’d-up tells the world, but I was just telling him how much I love him.”

It sure appeared Kelce bullied his way to get what he wanted. While doing so, he showed other athletes that yelling at and threatening your coach is acceptable. While Coach Reid later said, “I love it that the guy loves to play“, that doesn’t diminish the fact that Kelce communicated with his coach inappropriately. Reid deescalated the situation by doing the right thing in the moment… nothing.

The situation could have been avoided had Kelce simply taken a short pause to gather his thoughts before confronting his coach. That is, understandably, a very difficult to do when emotions are high.

That is why having a level-headed leader is so important. They help keep their teams in control. They pause to think and act clearly, and they do so even during heated conversations.

Early in my career, I led a project with a highly volatile co-worker. While we shared a common work goal, we had different ideas on achieving it. We both had very strong convictions which eventually resulted in a heated argument at work. Because neither of us remained calm, our dispute devolved into an agitated confrontation which strained the rest of our working relationship.

In our work and personal lives, we are going to interact with others who have strong convictions and sometimes even strong emotions. If we aren’t careful, we can be dragged into an intense confrontation. Take a lesson from Andy Reid. Always take the high road by keeping in control.

You’ll avoid having to clean up a bigger mess later.

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