Bill Belichick on Leadership
On occasion, we are blessed by witnessing truly amazing and rare leadership. That happened to me this past week when I stumbled upon an interview on CNBC with Bill Belichick, who is an unapologetic leader and, despite his gruff appearance, is empathetic, thoughtful, and decisive. During the course of the two-hour interview (which is consolidated into 15 glorious minutes) Bill, in his direct and non-flowery way, hits upon the issues of leadership crisply and clearly, and distills them into five basic principles of leadership.
1. Building a team that’s exhaustively prepared but able to adjust in an instant.
In Bill’s view, this means that he regularly engages his team in true team-building exercises. Not all organizations can have their teams train with Navy Seals as a team-building event, but we can creatively access the same principles of camaraderie that band your team together in times of trial or challenge.
2. Having the discipline to deploy your “dependables.”
What many people enjoy about the New England Patriots is the same thing they enjoy with the San Antonio Spurs — a team that is focused on execution and not flash. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t employ a team of superstars, rather than solid and consistent performance always includes a team filled with dependables who we can truly count on at all times.
3. Being the boss.
Leadership is lonely and tough. Far too many leaders try to be everyone’s friend and fail because they try to please everyone. Leadership is about sensing and articulating vision and direction despite how you feel others might view you. Sometimes, it requires that we stand alone.
4. Caring about everything going on in the lives of your people.
Empathy, or an understanding of another person, draws people closer and builds connections and relationships. We have all experienced being around people that make us feel like we’re the only ones in the room at that moment. Typically that’s because the other person is clearly focused on us and our experience with work as well as what’s happening outside of work. They’re completely with us in the moment. That is really caring and real leadership.
5. Never rest on your laurels.
‘Leaders’ who lead for the status or power that comes from leadership don’t really feel like real leaders, do they? We sense and feel false leadership. Sometimes this can be described as positional leadership instead of natural leadership — people who are considered leaders because of their title rather than their leadership qualities. These types of leaders frequently talk about their achievements and see that as qualifications for leadership. Natural leaders don’t seek out praise, it just follows them.