The 1996 movie, “Jerry Maguire,” is about an ethically challenged, work obsessed, sports agent who finally developed a conscience. As a result, Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) decided that he no longer wanted to prioritize profits over ethical standards.
Jerry’s change of heart caused him to lose his job in the large sports agency where he had worked. Top management there was more concerned with their financial bottom line than with ethics, and they considered Jerry to be a bad influence on the other sports agents.
Jerry’s change of heart was not a bad career decision. In a greedy business culture festering from scandals such as the Enron disgrace, his becoming more ethical made Jerry part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Also, on a personal level, he found it easier to live with himself.
The way that Jerry went about dealing with his change of heart, however, included many bad career decisions. For example:
- The bigger the decision, the more contemplation such a decision should involve, and Jerry made his decision too quickly.
- Jerry should have made his decision when he was in a calm state of mind, instead of while in a frantic frame of mind and after a sleepless night.
- Jerry, without management input or permission, produced his “mission statement” and distributed copies of it to all of the other sports agents for their consideration.
- Jerry could have made tactful inquiries to see how receptive management would be to at least parts of his mission statement, and, if the response had been negative, he could have started to plan a discreet and less risky departure from his agency.
- With more time to cautiously prepare for his departure, Jerry could have taken more of his staff, agent associates, and clients with him.
- As Jerry was leaving his sports agency, he went into a bizarre rant that never would be allowed to occur in today’s tense, violence prone work environment.
- His rant made the movie exciting, but, in real life, this lack of impression management would permanently damage most careers.
- As an independent sports agent, Jerry accepted his star athlete's verbal agreement with Jerry instead of getting their agreement in writing.
Hollywood producers of movies such as “Jerry Maguire” know that viewers like an underdog to triumph, and, in the end, Jerry does triumph. In real life however, the above eight mistakes usually would not lead to such a happy ending.