Sunday, September 25, 2016

New Leadership Lessons from Coach Belichick

Many of you may have read a blog I wrote a couple of years ago that was titled "We're On to Cinncinati", which was really about how important it is for leadership to continuously deliver energy and optimism, and demonstrate daily your belief that the people you have hired are smart, capable, and have the team's best interest at heart.

 Well, I think Coach Belichick gave us a few more leadership lessons last week. For you non-football-aholics, maybe you didn't hear that a very successful company (the Patriots) learned in the Spring that they would have to operate without one of their key employees (Quarterback Tom Brady) due to the fact that a few pieces of equipment (some footballs) were found to have less air in them due to the temperature on the field on one particular night two years ago. Arguably this employee is considered one of the best employees at his position in the history of this company, as well as the entire history of the marketplace. 

 Coach Belichick and his managers (the assistant coaches) developed one of Tom Brady's understudies (Jimmy Garapolo) to the point where his job performance was indistinguishable from that of the absent star employee. His performance was so good that over the first two weeks of the busy season, the Patriots beat 2 other companies that market insiders considered superior. 

 But, lo and behold, the understudy sustained an on the job injury, and it was determined that said understudy would not be able to report for work for a couple of weeks at least. Luckily, the company had hired a kid right out of college back in April, and he had been learning and working with the employee-of-the century and the understudy. Unfortunately, the company was faced with a pretty tall order, because another very good company (The Houston Texans, Inc.) were due to come to town and were intent on eating their lunch.

 Conventional wisdom, common sense, rules-of-thumb, best practices all dictated that this challenge was too big for the recent college graduate, and it might be a good idea to go out into the marketplace and find a more seasoned, experienced employee, put them on the payroll, just in case the challenge proved to be too big for the kid. Industry insiders (the media) peppered the head coach with questions about various potential employees that the company could bring in....just in case. 

 Not only did Coach Belichick not answer any of these questions or concerns, but at the same time he delivered an extremely strong message to his company. The message to the industry insiders was that the kid was being prepared to fend off the hostile takeover by the Texans, Inc. the message to his team was that the kid was on the company payroll because he believed that the kid, with everyone else in the company's help, would not only defeat the hostile takeover, but sort of.....embarrass them.

 The defense department pitched in by making sure the kid and the offensive department didn't have to score many points. The final score was 27-0, so the kid never really had to do anything stupendous, just be himself (no firefighting). The special teams department made sure that the Texans Inc. were constantly firefighting by creating turnovers and poor field position. 

 You don't need to be Vince Lombardi to coach a Bart Starr. Management greatness is determined by how well you develop the 53rd person on your roster. Coach Belichick demonstrated again that he has rock solid belief in his employees, and he really doesn't care at all what everyone else thinks. What message would he have been sending his employees if he went out onto the street and brought in an "insurance policy"?

 Every employee KNEW exactly how much they were valued and they worked to not disappoint their leader or their peers.

 Another leadership lesson from Bill Belichick.......

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