Written by: Tim Saumier, CEO
Let me start this conversation by saying I’m not a Patriots fan. In fact, they are considered the enemy to my lowly Miami Dolphins who have brought nothing but disappointment for two decades running. While the Patriots may be the enemy I have an enormous amount of respect for the leadership and their process. Yes, they’ve been criticized over the years for filming others practices, deflating footballs, etc. but the reality is their leadership has built a culture of excellence for two decades running. I remember when Drew Bledsoe went down in the second game in 2001 with an injury. My first thought was ouch – my second thought was we may have a shot with Bledsoe gone because they are putting in this unknown quarterback drafted in the 6th round from Michigan named Tom Brady. Even after starting the year 0-2, this no-name steps up and carries them to the Super Bowl Championship and the end of the Drew Bledsoe era.
Earlier this year, Brady was suspended for the first four games of the regular season, up steps the #2 quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (who?) and they win their first two games. He gets injured in game two and up steps the #3 quarterback Jacoby Brissett (who?) and they go 1 – 1 with him. Tom Brady comes back in game 5 and wins. Now they are 5-1 and arguably one of the strongest teams in the NFL.
So what is it they have that allows them to keep performing at a high level regardless of injuries, distractions (think Aaron Hernandez), etc.?
The conversation above is centered around quarterbacks but reality is they’ve had injuries and distractions across the board but for some reason they keep winning. The Pats have 124 wins over the past decade (#1 in the NFL and 20 more than the second team – Indianapolis). It starts with Leadership – Robert Kraft at the helm of the Patriots and his head coach Bill Belichick who joined the Pats in 2000. These two gentlemen are the clear leaders (not the players). They have established a culture of team first and have put a system in place where average players perform way above their individual capability. Tom Brady is a great quarterback because he plays within the New England Patriots system. Could he play elsewhere? Yes he could but the question is whether he would be as effective. I highly doubt it.
So what is it they have? 1) Clear leadership – Kraft & Belichick 2) Clear Systems & Processes 3) Clear Culture – you join the patriots they don’t join you 4) Clear role definition – everyone has a role to play. Yes they have talent but it’s the talent that fits their culture & their schemes – not the other way around. Corporations talk about talent like it’s the magic recipe to fixing everything. It doesn’t hurt to have talent on the team but without Clarity of Leadership, Systems, Processes, Culture, & Role Definition, it is pretty hard to be win as a team.
I’d appreciate your thoughts even if you don’t like football.
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