Inspiration Inception: What Tom Brady Can Teach us About Great Leadership

Posted by BMD 14/02/19

Let me begin by stating, I know very little about American Football. In my mind, it’s one rung above Baseball (arguably the most dull sport on Planet Earth) and there’s only one time a year when the sport might tickle my interest gland i.e. The Superbowl.

Although my interest in the proceedings largely extends to the ads, trailers and halftime performance, this year was slightly different. This year, my gaze was redirected to the man that would be set to make history by winning his sixth Superbowl championship ring. This year was all about Tom Brady.

According to his Wikipedia page, Tom Brady is in his 19th season as starting quarterback for the New England Patriots, he’s won four MVP awards and has been selected to the Pro Bowl 13 times (whatever that means). Which, I’m told, makes him one of the most prolific players to ever pick up the pigskin. It was his well documented success that provided a catalyst for me to look a little deeper to investigate why he had been so eminent in the football arena.

It’s important to note, success wasn’t just handed to him. In fact, when playing football in college he wasn’t considered a particularly exceptional player in his position. To rectify this, he worked with a psychologist to change his mindset about the way he played, but also the way he worked within a team environment. He concluded that,

“Before you can be an effective leader, you have to think like a great one. How you view things dramatically affects the action you take.”

Brady understands, better than most, that at the end of the day the best outcomes are derived from the success of the team as a whole. Success means nothing if he does well and others don’t; or if others do well, and he doesn’t. To quote the man himself:

“Once you have the right team in place, you have to know how to motivate them. The more you can get inside the heads of your team, the better you’re able to influence them in a positive way.”

He understands that words have weight and the ways in which he communicates can have serious ramifications on performance. His goal is to find the best way to motivate his teammates, and knows that one size doesn’t fit all. Most players respond well to role clarity and encouragement, but some prefer to be motivated by having the bar raised and held to a higher standard. So, apply that to yourself. Do you take the necessary steps to get to know your team? Connecting with them on a deeper level will make them want to follow you into battle, no questions asked.

Brady reportedly takes the time, from the youngest to the oldest team member, to learn about what music is trending, what viral videos are doing the rounds and how he can connect with that person even if it’s not something he would naturally gravitate towards. His power to empathise with his teammates is to be applauded. Having a mentor in a leadership position that cares about even a small detail can be a huge catalyst in driving team bonding and culture.

Tom also recognises that binding the team with one common aim or goal is an intrinsic part of great leadership i.e. teams are motivated when they know what they’re doing matters. He, “[tries] to be better today than yesterday, continuing to change, evolve and grow by surrounding myself with fun people I can learn a lot from.

Tom Brady is a figurehead who is comfortable in his own skin. He never tries to be anyone else, all manages to walk the line between self-confidence and remaining humble like a true professional.

The Superbowl may not have ignited my passion for this American pastime, but it has certainly been an eyeopener as far an unlikely source of inspiration goes. The question is, do you think you display the same qualities of leadership in your role?

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