07 Feb 3 Things Businesses Can Learn from Kraft, Belichick, and Brady
Whether you love them or detest them, Sunday’s victory made it pretty tough to dispute that the Patriots, under the leadership of Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady, are likely the greatest to have ever held their respective positions. Though none of them are without flaw, a look at their behaviors reveals mindsets that yield a treasure trove of invaluable leadership and organizational gems for large and small businesses.
1- Ownership Sets Vision and Tone
Robert Kraft, whose amazing story of owning a NFL franchise can be read here, parlayed his interest in a struggling franchise into perhaps the only modern day dynasty in existence. Despite salary caps, free-agency, and on/off the field controversy, his team continues to flourish well into a second decade. This kind of longevity is unheard of in the current economy of NFL teams. To understand Kraft’s role, we only need to look at the hallmarks of his ownership.
As the referenced story of ownership details, Kraft was deeply committed to owning the franchise he had adored for so long. Long before any opportunity presented itself, Kraft began strategically executing his vision to have the capital necessary to bring his dream to reality. By building his existing business up to its previously unrealized potential, he scaled himself into a legitimate buyer simply waiting for the opportunity to arise. Then, through strategic land deals and agreements, he positioned himself to have the upper-hand when the previous team owners needed his agreement in order to relocate the team and avoid financial collapse. Instead of agreeing, Kraft bought the team.
By all outward appearances, Kraft has been an idyllic owner. Contrary to some notoriously meddling owners, Kraft chose good people to run his team and then…he got out of the way. It’s easy to be hands off when you have a winning franchise, but despite their winning records, this team has had controversy on and off the field. Kraft ardently advocates for his team with the league, but he largely leaves the business of selecting players and personnel to those he entrusts to run the team. Operating with this approach creates a climate in which his personnel not only feel supported, they feel empowered.
2- Leadership Coaches Personnel to Success
Bill Belichick defies conventional practices with his wardrobe alone. For decades, when the team suited up, the classic coach literally wore a suit while directing from the sidelines. Enter Belichick, half-sleeved hoodies and all.
Just as one would be ill-advised to judge his coaching prowess by his attire, Belichick and his scouting team are masters at finding hidden potential in unrecognized and discarded players. By now, most people are aware of the fact that even Tom Brady was taken in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL draft. Yes, 198 other players were selected before Brady that year, a fact which now seems patently absurd, but at the time, required great vision. Belichick and company not only had the vision, they were willing to act on it.
Combing through year after year of Patriot team rosters yields a list of players other teams no longer believed in or weren’t willing to take a chance on. Belichick saw value in these players and, more importantly, figured out how to get them to perform at a higher level than many of them ever had. It is undoubtable that a large part of this has to do with the fact that no one is above being coached in the Patriot’s locker room, even Tom Brady. Don’t believe it? Read The Tale of Tom Brady and Johnny Foxborough. Few could get away with, or should even try, the exact tactics used in a professional football environment. However, consistent coaching, accountability, and expectation of excellence at every level of an organization are universal and vital. This approach ensures the vision is understood, the personnel are prepared and empowered, and each participant understands their role in the success of the team.
3- Great Personnel Take Ownership of their Role
What takes a seemingly average player from being a 6th round risk to, arguably, the greatest quarterback of all time? Tom Brady exemplifies three key characteristics every employer would love to have.
As told in the previously mentioned, Tale of Tom Brady and Johnny Foxborough, and many other accounts, Brady is largely without ego when it comes to his coach. He knows who he is and what is expected of him, and he also recognizes that under the tutelage of a great coach, he can reach far greater heights by allowing himself to be instructed and corrected. While many don’t work for the Bill Belichick of their industry, mentors and other experts can serve as wise coaches that guide us to excellence in our field. The key is a realization that we don’t know it all, recognizing that we can’t see everything from our position, and a willingness to be coached. For any arrogance Brady may have, in this area, there is none.
When Bill Belichick was interviewed in a pre-game spot, he was asked what it was like to coach Tom Brady. Belichick said that Brady is always prepared. He knows the plays, he knows the game plan, and he takes the time to study his opponent. He went on to describe how it is both intimidating and a blessing that his quarterback comes to team meetings totally prepared…which also serves to keep Belichick on his toes. Great personnel come ready and raise the bar for those around them.
Brady repeatedly exemplifies characteristics of a true team player. In interview after interview, he consistently talks about the team. He knows his role, comes prepared, and shares successes and losses…as any team player should. In a day and age of individual and corporate greed, he makes sacrifices to propel the organization, even with his own salary. Cliché or not, Brady understands he cannot win games alone.
Taking a moment to look at this organization so steeped in success provides great takeaways we can all utilize to achieve greatness as we seek to elevate our businesses. Whether Kraft realizing his improbable dream of owning an NFL team, Belichick becoming the NFL’s most prolific coach, or Brady achieving records that cement his place as of one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time, these three individuals share a spirit of never giving up, despite seemingly impossible odds. In fact, all one needs to do is look at their recent big win: The Patriots did not lead in score a single second of the game, yet through undying determination, they won. They never stopped believing in their vision and they never gave up.