Paul Tagliabue

October 19, 2011

Paul Tagliabue
Commissioner, National Football League (1989 - 2006)

The man who shepherded the NFL into the 21st Century and international prominence discusses leadership both on and off the field and managing change and technology.

As commissioner of the National Football League for over 15 years, Paul Tagliabue was a transformational leader who helped take revenues from $970 million-a-year to over $5 billion-a-year by the end of his tenure. His shrewd business acumen, including his focus on revenue sharing, introducing a salary cap, launching the NFL Network and positioning the NFL as one of the most important mainstays in the video game market, all made the NFL the most competitive professional sports league and the gold standard by which other leagues are measured. Tagliabue shares with audiences his unique understanding of leadership at the executive level, including: setting strategic – and clear – organizational goals; the importance of being proactive; why a conflict can actually be constructive; and –most important – why values matter. An innovator in every sense of the word, he also discusses the vital importance of managing change within an organization, as well as understanding—and partnering with—emerging technologies for both organizational viability and competitive advantage.


Leading a large, diverse, franchised organization with localized loyalties and fierce brand loyalty can be challenging for any leader. Yet Paul Tagliabue successfully and deftly steered the NFL into the 21st Century, ensuring the league became the gold standard by which other professional leagues are measured, while embracing technologies and policies that continue to make it more effective and competitive. Tagliabue’s highly nuanced understanding of leadership shaped his success as NFL commissioner, and in a presentation teeming with executive-level insight, he shares the insights that helped him become one of sports’ most effective leaders, such as:

· Why values matter
· Why clear strategic goals are imperative to success
· How conflict can benefit an organization
· Why you should fix it, even if it ain’t broke.

Managing Change

During Paul Tagliabue’s tenure as commissioner of the National Football League, revenues increased from $970 million-a-year to a $5 billion-a-year—emblematic of the league’s ability to remain competitive by embracing technological and sociological changes. With Tagliabue’s guidance, the league now broadcasts on its own cable channel and in HDTV, is one of the mainstays of the multi-platform video game market and is quickly becoming an attraction to international football fans—all while maintaining its brand integrity and loyalty. Tagliabue provides audiences with strategies for embracing innovation and managing change while providing the same quality of service that brand loyalists have come to expect. Tagliabue helps audiences understand:

· The necessity of a clear and credible goals and strategy
· The importance of a leadership committed to those vision and goals
· How identifying “constants” solidifies strategy, and clears the path towards executing it
· How clearly communicating to your customers and stakeholders (however they’re defined) results in quality of service and brand loyalty

The World of Sports

The world of sports reveals so much, not only about the fans loyal to teams, but about the culture sustaining them, becoming vivid, exciting manifestations of that culture’s particular values. Paul Tagliabue discusses football and other sports as cultural phenomena and as an insightful, telling way to better understand the values of the culture. He provides audiences with an overview of what football—or any sport—can teach us about pride, leadership, teamwork, and how to gracefully win and lose.




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