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Lessons from the Sidelines: Effective Leadership and Teamwork Spell Victory

by Bonni Carson DiMatteo

Like any company, the New England Patriots had their challenges. Only a year ago they were at the bottom of the heap for expectations—they had a transition in leadership, they had lost productivity through injuries, and they had some staff that thought they were so valuable they could make their own rules. Stock was slipping. Stockholders confidence was waning.

They were the David in a world of Goliaths.

But like the truly great companies that are faced with an impossible challenge, if there is visionary and motivational leadership and an impenetrable team spirit there is absolutely nothing they can't conquer. Effective Leadership and Teams make success stories.

The New England Patriots had it all when it came to the important ingredients for success. They had an owner who believed in his leadership team and delegated them the authority and responsibility. They had inspired leadership that recruited, retained and developed talent; thought strategically, had a contingency plan, created a culture of learning and innovation, motivated the players to have a passion to win, cultivated a culture of excellence that had no room for under performers who did not want to develop themselves to the next level, and zero tolerance for individual players who thought their individual success or needs were more important than the whole. And when it came time to celebrate victory everyone was included.

The result was the creation of team spirit with little parallel. They developed a sense of pride and cohesion that was greater than the sum of its parts. The team spirit was so tightly woven that they broke all the rules of introduction at the Super Bowl and came out as a team, not individual heroes. They had a winning attitude, and exuded respect and inclusion for everyone on the team. As the game went on, the importance of team victory superseded any individual longings. Every defensive and offensive move was in alignment with that company vision and goal: Bring the Championship home to New England.

The mentoring that Bledsoe gave Brady to succeed to his spot was done so gracefully and with such dignity that we paid less attention to the conflict and more attention to the vision of victory. When it came to a strategy to clinch the final two points, Brady et al gave it to Vinatieri and set him up to succeed.

What can we learn from this? For companies to succeed...

Leaders have to:

  • Create and instill a vision and a mission
  • Motivate buy-in and enthusiasm for the vision
  • Align their goals and action plans with the vision and mission
  • Have a passion to win
  • Believe in their leadership team
  • Delegate authority and responsibility
  • Think and act strategically and have a contingency plan
  • Create a culture of learning and innovation
  • Cultivate a culture of excellence
  • Create a sense of team identity and cohesion
  • Recruit and develop talent
  • Eschew under performers who sabotage excellence and team commitment
  • Develop a mentoring and coaching culture
  • Develop and reward team efforts above individual heroes
  • Include everyone in the victory

Teams have to:

  • Visualize victory
  • Favor team victory over personal power
  • Mentor and coach successors
  • Think strategically
  • Embrace a learning organization
  • Eschew under performers and saboteursWork and think as a team
  • Build a culture of team identity
  • Respect individual contributions

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