Super Bowl LI was definitely a game of firsts: it was the first Super Bowl game to go into overtime, the first time a team has ever come from behind in the first half to win the whole thing, and the first time Lady Gaga opted out of making a controversial statement with the whole world watching. But with 7 showings and 5 wins as a head coach, it was not the first time Bill Belichick led a team to Super Bowl victory.
There’s a reason why the Patriots continue to impress: effective leadership. Strong teams win championships on the football field and in business, and strong teams are lead by powerful leaders. Here are 4 behaviors led by Bill Belichick that helped the Patriots win the Super Bowl that any leader can adopt to lead their team to the W.
Celebrate the small wins
Football is a game comprised of small wins. Inches and yards stand between possessions and goals, 1 second and 1 point can be the difference between winning and losing, and one loss is all it takes to be out of the running for a championship ring. The Patriots recognize the importance of celebrating every step of the way: sideline dances and bear hugs from coaches and teammates after big plays on the field are common. And after each win leading up to the big game, the team and coaches huddled in the locker room to congratulate and encourage one another.
It’s easy for the small wins to go unnoticed when the whole team has their eyes on the prize, so it’s vital for managers to identify and celebrate minor victories on a regular basis. A quick high five or shoutout has the power to boost morale, make each teammate feel appreciated, and act as a catalyst for further innovation and behavior change towards achieving the bigger end goal.
Motivate on and off the field
Even this year’s winning Patriots team lost a few games along the way, but they were motivated and driven to come out on top. No matter what you think of Bill Belichick, you must admire his ability to coach a winning team. The man knows how to motivate his players through a mix of sarcasm, humor, and direct communication. Though some of his tactics may be questionable—and probably not the best for the typical workplace—they do get results.
Similarly, motivation is key to a happy and productive team, during both the good times and the difficult. Effective leaders know how to rally their team around a common goal and encourage their employees to do their best to achieve those goals.
Understand each teammate’s special role
Teams are made up of individuals with individual strengths, and in no sport is that more important than football. Everyone celebrates the quarterback, but the Patriots may not have made a comeback if it hadn’t been for Julian Edelman’s impossible catch late in the 4th quarter.
Great managers understand that everyone on their team has their own strengths and without them, the team would not succeed. Effective leaders work with each team member to identify and develop both those individual strengths and how they best work together with their coworkers’ strengths to create a winning team.
Don’t fold under pressure
It’s easy to imagine the atmosphere in the Patriots’ locker room at halftime: down by 18 with no precedent for a miraculous turnaround, they probably felt a little defeated. History was against them, yet against all odds, they achieved a historical comeback in the 2nd half scoring 31 unanswered points to win the game. Must have been one heck of a halftime pep talk to rally the players to victory.
Pressure can take its toll on any team regardless of the circumstances, and great leaders understand and prepare for this. Keeping spirits high during high-stress times is often the difference between victory and defeat. Effective managers practice staying calm under pressure and guide their teams through the tough times with poise and unwavering strength.
While Bill Belichick will most likely go down as one of the greatest NFL coaches in history, you don’t need a hoodie and a primetime TV event to achieve greatness in whichever team you lead. Every team has the potential to go all the way with a little luck, the right talent, and an effective leader at the helm.
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