Leadership Lessons from the Super Bowl Contenders

I went to bed disappointed last night after my favored team, the Atlanta Falcons, allowed an NFL championship to slip from their grasp in the closing minutes of the game. I woke up this morning ready to take on the day without regard to who won or lost. It is a game and it is a game I love. But, I do not live or die by what happens on a football field. I did learn something about leadership, however.

The theme for the New England Patriots this year was “do your job.” The premise is to focus on your responsibility, do it with excellence, and see it through. Don’t be concerned about what others are supposed to be doing. “Do your job!” I have often stated that the greatest expertise lies in knowing how someone else should be doing their job. Whether it is a referee, a coach who makes a call we don’t agree with, a president, our boss, or a CEO, we have a tendency to mentally (and sometimes verbally) critique and pontificate on how they can do their job better. It is so easy to be an expert on someone else’s job when you have no personal responsibility or consequences for an opinion. Bill Belichick drove home to his team day in and day out to focus on their own job rather than the job or task that someone else has responsibility for.

The theme this past year that drove the Atlanta Falcons was “brotherhood.” The year started with four days of exercises that had little to do with football. Team building exercises were engaged in to bring the team members together on a personal level. The exercises and the time together engendered greater loyalty, personal connections, appreciation for teammates, and common purpose. Genuinely caring for team members or co-workers should compel team members to always give their best in the interest of the team.

These two strategies beg the question: As leaders, should we influence followers to focus on their assigned task or to expend greater energy on working together. The answer is “yes.” A skilled leader does both. You can rest assured that Coaches Quinn and Belichick promoted both levels of focus while highlighting a message for this particular season that his players needed to hear and apply. Both teams were served well and yours will be too. “Do your job” and “serve those around you (brotherhood)” and you will maximize your leadership!

I am now ready for the new season and my hope for my beloved Falcons springs eternal! Congratulations to both teams on excellent seasons.