For those of you who hate Tom Brady, hold your nose because I’m going to talk about him in this column—not so much Tom Brady the Patriot or Buc but the paragon of leadership.
I just read this new book titled 12 Lessons in Business Leadership: Insights From the Championship Career of Tom Brady by Kevin Daum and Anne Marie Ciminelli, who are—by the way— not fans of Brady’s teams, but they are fans of his leadership qualities.
Besides the fact that I do like and admire Tom Brady and think he exemplifies true leadership in any sport or business, I wanted to write about leadership because it made me think of our own industry and our sales teams. I came to the realization that we don’t really have “teams” in our industry.
Oh, we call them a sales team, but there is very little team spirit, motivation, or even leadership. Most of the sales forces I know are more a group of salespeople who happen to work together. Most of them are in it for themselves, rather than for one another; in the end, this is a serious problem.
I think we could be so much better if we actually were teams, all working together for the common good of each other and the company. Think about your own situation as you review these examples of Tom Brady’s leadership.
Leading by Example
When Rodney Harrison came to the Patriots, he was so excited about playing for them and wanted to be the best and most prepared player on the team. He was always the first one at practice every day. The first day he came to practice at 6:30 a.m., only to find that Brady was there already. The next day he came at 6:00 a.m., and Brady was still there. Then, he really got competitive and came to practice at 5:00 a.m., and you got it—Brady was there first and greeted him as he had all week with a hearty, “Good afternoon!” Brady had three super bowl rings at the time.
Taking One for the Good of the Team
Tom Brady is considered the greatest of all time (GOAT), yet he is the sixteenth highest-paid quarterback in the league. He is paid at the same scale as a fair to the middling quarterback. There are some second-string quarterbacks that make more than he does. Why does he do that? He does it for the team. He takes huge pay-cuts year after year so the team will be able to hire other great players and still be under the team salary cap. That’s called putting money where your mouth is. He knows he will be so much better if he is surrounded by other great players.
Rewarding and Motivating Teammates to Do Their Best
During team scrimmages, Brady has been known to pay cash on the spot to anyone on his opposing scrimmage team who intercepts one of his passes. Making sure that they are playing their hearts out makes him a better quarterback and them better defenders.
When the Patriots won the 2015 Super Bowl, Brady was named the most valuable player (MVP). He was awarded a brand-new truck and handed the keys over to young Malcolm Butler, who had made that great interception with 20 seconds left in the game.
Leadership in Sales Teams
Now, let’s think about our own sales team and situation. Do we use some of these leadership principles? As leaders, do we do whatever it takes to get the best from our team? Don’t you think we should?
What would your own sales team would be like if you, as their leader, applied some of these same principles to your leadership skills. That would make one heck of a team. Here are some of the more outstanding leadership lessons from the book:
- The best leaders prove their dedication to the team in their words and actions. They are focused solely on the ultimate goal, which is reflected in how they live their lives and conduct themselves at work.
- Great leaders are followers, too. They recognize that no one person is bigger than the team and are willing to sacrifice personal rewards to achieve the team’s goals.
- Leaders are not threatened by working with people smarter and differently talented than they are. Instead, leaders embrace and trust those people to use their unique skill sets to push the team forward.
I think this last lesson is the most powerful and meaningful of all. In so many companies today, leaders are so insecure that they are afraid to hire people who are smarter and more talented than they are. They would rather hire people they know to be “safe and easy” to manage, who will listen to them without reservation. This way, they will always preserve the illusion of being the smartest person in the room, so to speak, even when they are not. Thus, this creates their own homegrown “capabilities cap.”
Consider, for a minute, how limiting this kind of narrow thinking can be. Then think about the example of great leadership that Tom Brady gives us. These are the lessons of a true leader and the lessons of leadership we should follow.
It’s only common sense.
Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.