On Sunday the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 to win their 6th Super Bowl championship since head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady joined the team in 2000.
This is one of the most impressive and successful dynasties in team sports and the question everyone asks is why. Sure, Tom Brady is the GOAT and yes, Bill Belichick is a great coach who works hard in making sure his team is prepared for the next opponent, since coaching “beats being a plumber” as he may or may not have said.
After winning Super Bowl 51 two years ago in that famous comeback game against the Falcons, Belichick said something that might hint at why the Patriots are consistently so good. He was asked something like “how will you enjoy this time off after your fifth Super Bowl championship?” and replied coldly that there was no time to take a breather since all the other teams they are competing against has a head start on preparing for the new season.
As he said “we’re three weeks behind everyone else, we need to catch up”. This on the morning after winning the championship…
With this in the back of my brain I was interested to watch the press conference Monday to see and hear what and how Coach and the MVP, Julian Edelman would talk about the game.
First reflection from watching Edelman receiving the MVP trophy and hearing him speak was the same as every time a Patriots player is interviewed. If you didn’t hear the players’ voice and see his face you could easily think that it’s the coach who is talking. “I just did my job”, “the team played great”, “everyone did a good job”, “they are a great team”, “next opponent/season” etc..
Second reflection from hearing Belichick speak was that he always emphasizes the team, the coaching staff and the whole organization while the only talk about himself is pretty much “I need to do my job like everyone else”. There is no excitement or grandeur, more a satisfaction of accomplishment. Mission complete, now onto the next mission.
When the leader(s) of an organization are this task oriented, focuses on the important details and puts the team above the individual it’s not strange that in time the players will follow suit. After all, you might tell your players to work hard, but if you leave the office early and come unprepared to the team meeting the next day, what you say really doesn’t matter.
However, if you lead by example and make sure that you’re always prepared, focused on the task ahead and sacrifice yourself for your team the players will take note and it’s only a matter of time before they mirror your behavior.