Countless volumes of leadership advice have been written by business school professors, former CEOs and other sundry experts. However, often some of our most useful and effective lessons come from “average” people.
Actually, we probably should not categorize Ross Tucker as “average” since he’s 6′ 4″ tall and weighs 310 pounds. He’s from a rare breed that have graduated from an Ivy league school (Princeton) and play in the NFL. Tucker is an offensive lineman for the Washington Redskins who is currently on the injured reserve list. He is also part of the Sports Illustrated SI.com team as a regular contributor to their NFL Beat column where this week he wrote an interesting post titled How the Patriots do it: An inside look at key’s to New England’s dominance.
Tucker, who started his career in 2001 with the Redskins, has played for 5 teams including the Patriot briefly in 2005. He attributes the Patriots success to the leadership demonstrated by Coach Bill Belichick and all-star quarterback Tom Brady. He cites five leadership characteristics that set the Patriots apart from other NFL teams and provides detailed and convincing arguments for each. They are:
- Clearly identifying keys to the game;
- Developing the perfect game plan;
- Being proactive in acquiring personnel;
- Building a team, not a collection of athletes;
- Tom Brady.
These are all things that we “know” leaders do, but Tucker gives us an authentic and intelligent insider’s perspective. I love that Ross Tucker is a former teammate and current opponent.
I was particularly struck by what Tucker said about #5. Tom Brady:
During my time in New England I worked as a backup lineman and often had to snap to Brady while playing center. In spite of all of the other chaos that he had to sort through, he (Brady) always found the time to look me squarely in the eye and say, “C’mon Ross, me and you, let’s get a great snap first.”
I never wanted to snap a ball so well in my life.
I was a veteran in my fifth and sixth years in the league while in New England and I had started over 20 games, but Brady’s ability to single me out and make me feel important for the success of the play was unlike anything I had experienced.
Imagine 52 other guys feeling that way every Sunday and you will begin to truly understand why Brady and the Patriots are redefining perfection.
Okay, you might not stand 6′ 4″, be able to thrown the football 60 yards to Randy Moss running full tilt, stand in the pocket knowing that you will take a ferocious hit from a monster outside linebacker or break the single season NFL record for touchdown passes. But as a leader, there is no reason that you can’t communicate with your “team” the way Brady does with his. Clear, honest and authentic communication is one of the cornerstones of strong leadership. Effective one to one communication is the best way to bring out extraordinary performances from all of the members of your team. It’s contagious and will help create a winning attitude.
Tucker’s short SI column provides more valuable and effective leadership advice than 90% of the business best sellers in book stores.
Next time you get the chance to lead your teammates, be Tom Brady!
Thanks to Ann Bernard for bring the SI.com article to my attention.
For other Sports and Leadership posts, check out Maritime Leaderships Lessons on Monday Night Football and Leadership is a Muscle.
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