How Does Bill Belichick Develop New Leaders?
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is famously tight-lipped, often refusing to discuss team matters or personnel situations with the media. Just take a look at how he deflected attention from the team's recent acquisition of quarterback Tim Tebow if you need an example.
So, with a few NFL fans on staff, it certainly piqued our attention when Belichick detailed his views on leadership while delivering the keynote address at a sports medicine symposium in May. How does the perennial AFC East powerhouse continuously develop great leaders?
Belichick shared his philosophy on the subject, and much more at the symposium, which was transcribed by ESPNBoston.com:
"What I've always told our team, and what I thoroughly believe in, is that every member of our team--players, coaches, support staff and so forth--is a shareholder. They have a share in the team. Are they all exactly equal? Of course not, but they're all shareholders. Every member of the team has an opportunity to show positive leadership or negative leadership. That's really what it comes to. The question for that person is 'How are they going to do that? How are they going to control that?'"
By saying members of the Patriots' shares aren't all the same size, Belichick acknowledges that long snapper Danny Aiken might not be as important to the team's success as, say, Tom Brady. But the Patriots' system encourages everybody, from top to bottom, to embrace a leadership role--wherever their name appears on the depth chart.
Managers often rely on sports metaphors to motivate their teams and organizations, so I got a chuckle out of hearing a sports figure of Belichick's stature wield a corporate term like "shareholder." Of course, major league sports have been increasingly incorporating business practices in recent decades--and we're not just talking about the profit margins on hot dogs and beer. Books such as Soccernomics, The Extra 2%, and Moneyball have all shown how data analysis and savvy management play a role in on-the-field sports success.