Whether you admire him or not, Tom Brady’s legacy extends far beyond football, marked by seven Super Bowl victories and numerous NFL records. Despite no longer playing the sport, Brady continues to captivate people outside of football who seek insights into leadership excellence. Overcoming scandals and setbacks, Brady’s tenacity both on and off the field has inspired many, leaving CEOs curious about the secrets behind his leadership success.
Building YOUR Team: A Lesson in Active Recruitment
In a departure from traditional team dynamics, Brady showcased his recruitment prowess with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While he may have let management handle the formal process, Brady actively influenced the team’s decisions, advocating for players whose skills complemented his own.
The lesson for CEOs and top executive management is this: don’t rely solely on HR to hunt down and attract talent to your firm or company. Survey your own playing field and scout out professionals who share your drive and possess skills that complement your own. You have a repertoire of skills that you bring to the table, but are there abilities that aren’t represented by your executive team? Take an active role in hiring talent to your management team so that you get players who aren’t just proficient in the game but they are also in tune with your game.
He Played The Part
Some of the greatest leaders in history seem designed to have played the role of leader. If Shackleton worried that his ship’s crew wouldn’t make it out of the Antarctic alive, his crew certainly wasn’t aware of his fears. Was there ever a king who played the role of monarch more astutely than Queen Elizabeth I? Like some of the greatest leaders, Brady understood that he had to play the role of leader–and that meant conveying calm confidence under pressure. It’s not a matter of denying the existence of heat when you’re walking through the fire; it’s assuring your team that you’ll make it through the crisis. Brady captained his team with cool self-assurance even when under tremendous pressure. Was he born this way? Many years ago, when I was a quarterback at St. Augustine High School in San Diego, regaining composure and focus after an interception was always the toughest for me. My football coach used to say, “A good quarterback has short-term memory.” Brady seldom gets rattled. There’s no denying that some people possess innate leadership skills like this one, but Brady cultivated his emotional control over the years. To be like Brady, even when feeling doubtful, CEOs must consider their role–don’t let your team see you sweat. Your confidence is apt to be contagious–and people perform better when they’re less fearful.
After twenty years with the New England Patriots and, arguably, the seat of his comfort zone, Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Bucs in 2020. Did anyone really expect him to lead the team to the Super Bowl (and win his seventh) in his first year as its QB? Brady possessed the trait of adaptability. He was dynamic. He wasn’t afraid to leave his comfort zone and tackle new challenges.
Lots of business leaders prefer to play it safe–and a good number have achieved success by playing it safe, but that doesn’t appear to have been Brady’s style. It’s not enough for the football star to adapt; he makes it a goal to adapt and thrive in new situations. Change is challenging for people–even highly experienced leaders. Today’s post-pandemic business leaders have many changes to contend with. AI is driving change in the workplace and creating innovations almost overnight. Without the ability to shift gears quickly, leaders can become mired in old habits that may not serve them well when their playing field changes.
You don’t have to be a football fan to appreciate that Brady has won Super Bowl MVP seven times and embodies leadership excellence that today’s CEOs and executives can learn from. Consider his traits and gameplay as you evaluate your own leadership style and traits. You might never throw like Tom, but you can lead like him and usher your own team to success.
By Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano
President & CEO of Barbachano International
Barbachano International (BIP) is the premier executive search and leadership advisory firm in the Americas with a focus on diversity & multicultural target markets. Since 1992, BIP and its affiliates have impacted the profitability of over 50% of Fortune 500 Companies. BIP has been recognized by Forbes as Americas’ Best Executive Search Firms and currently ranks #27 and #3 on the West Coast.