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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 As the game went on, the importance of team victory superseded any individual longings.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 saboteurs
Work and think as a team
Build a culture of team identity
Respect individual contributions

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