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Clarity and the New England Patriots. What do they have in common? February 5, 2019

Let me start this conversation by saying I’m not a Patriots fan. In fact, they are considered the enemy to my lowly Miami Dolphins who have brought nothing but disappointment for the past three decades. While the Patriots may be the enemy, I have an enormous amount of respect for the leadership and their process. LeadershipYes, they’ve been criticized over the years for filming others practices and deflating footballs, but the reality is their leadership has built a culture of excellence for two decades while losing players and coaches to other teams.

I remember when Drew Bledsoe went down in the second game in 2001 with an injury. My first thought was “ouch.” My second thought was “We may have a shot with Bledsoe gone because they are putting in this unknown quarterback drafted in the 6th round from Michigan named Tom Brady.” Even after starting the year 0-2, this no-name steps up and carries them to the Super Bowl Championship and the end of the Drew Bledsoe era.

They got off to a sluggish start earlier this year.  If you look back to the articles written everyone was predicting that it was the end of the dynasty.   They had lost a number of people in the off-season and their mainstay Tom Brady is now much older, over 40.  Well, he and the Patriots proved everyone wrong again with their win over the Rams this past Sunday.

So what is it they have that allows them to keep performing at a high level regardless of injuries, player departures, coaching departures, and the aging of their quarterback? 

The Patriots have 126 wins over the past decade (#1 in the NFL and 20 more than the second team the Green Bay Packers). It starts with leadership; Robert Kraft at the helm of the Patriots and his head coach Bill Belichick, who joined the Patriots in 2000. patriots3These two gentlemen are the clear leaders (not the players). They have established a culture of team first and have put a system in place where average players perform way above their individual capability. Tom Brady is a great quarterback because he plays within the New England Patriots system. Could he play elsewhere? Yes, he could but the question is whether he would be as effective. I highly doubt it.

So what is it that they have?

1) Clear leadership

2) Clear systems and processes

3) Clear culture (You join the Patriots they don’t join you)

4) Clear role definition – everyone has a role to play

Yes, they have talent but it’s the talent that fits their culture and their schemes, not the other way around. Corporations talk about talent like it’s the magic recipe for fixing everything. It doesn’t hurt to have talent on the team but without clarity of leadership, systems, processes, culture, and role definition, it is pretty hard to win as a team.

Written by:  Tim Saumier, CEO