With 10 short words, Tom Brady taught a powerful lesson in how to lead great people. (Again)
It doesn’t matter if you like Tom Brady.
It doesn’t matter whether you care his Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the New England Patriots on Sunday night, or you care about football.
If you’re running a business, leading people at work, or trying to recruit and retain top talent during The Big Resignation, it’s worth watching what Brady did ahead of last night’s game.
To set the stage, this was one of the biggest regular-season NFL contests in recent history. Brady, who played 20 seasons in New England and won six Super Bowls with the Patriots before leaving for Tampa Bay last year (and winning another Super Bowl) returned to play in Massachusetts for the first time as a as visitor.
Less than a week before the game, however, the Buccaneers signed a new player: Richard Sherman, a cornerback (that is, he plays defense, in case you don’t follow the football. ) who has been to the Pro Bowl five times, and won the Super Bowl once.
Not a big deal normally, except for three things:
- First off, Sherman had a great career, but was released from his last team, the San Francisco 49ers in February after an injury. He later found himself in legal trouble over the summer, after allegedly attempting to break into the home of his wife’s parents.
- Second, the Buccaneers were in dire need of a cornerback after their starter suffered an injury.
- Third, and most important for us, it was Brady who would have made the difference by recruiting Sherman to the team.
At 44 and still playing, Brady is the undisputed best quarterback in NFL history at this point, and he’s also become an older statesman in the game.
That’s pretty remarkable considering he’s a very polarizing player as well – and both he and Sherman have had harsh words on the pitch over the years, as opposing players. But, as Sherman explained last week after signing his contract, it was essentially 10 words in a phone call from Brady that made the difference.
“You better come, or you’ll be sorry you didn’t come,” Brady told Sherman, the latter player said in response to a question from a reporter after arriving in Tampa.
More than just convincing him, he said, Brady’s involvement also helped convince his wife that maybe it was a good idea for Sherman to travel across the country and play this season at Tampa.
Now I’m not going to go through the whole game last night. Sherman played, which was a bit surprising since most discerning observers – and Sherman himself – thought he would need at least another week to prepare.
He did well; not his best game ever, and he didn’t really come into the result. After another Tampa defensive player was injured, it was a good thing for Tampa that he was available.
What is really instructive here, however, is Brady’s decision to get involved in such recruiting, and what that means as an example in almost every area of work.
This is not an isolated incident. I wrote after last year’s Super Bowl about how Brady was the driving force behind recruiting the three players who scored touchdowns in the Tampa victory:
- Brady convinced former teammate Rob Gronkowski to come out of retirement;
- He recruited another player, Antonio Brown, not only to join the team but to live with him for a while; and
- He gave another player what we might now call the Richard Sherman treat, calling running back Leonard Fournette to ask him to play straight for the Bucs after his previous team cut him off.
To be clear, this is not what usually happens in professional sport. A player – even a Marquis player like Brady – doesn’t normally work in the moonlight as an assistant general manager.
I think this demonstrates his understanding of a key truth about leaders, which is that they want to be wanted and appreciated. And, I think that’s probably the kind of player you want on your team as a business owner, so not.
They are exceptional contributors who understand that they cannot achieve everything on their own and are not afraid to lean on others and build on their strengths.
These are the few employees who are not only dedicated to their own success and the success of their teammates, but also dedicated to recruiting other outside people who will make the team even better.
And, I think these are the types of employees that you want to develop, recruit, and stay on the lookout for.
So, forget about last night’s game, if you even paid attention. Forget the football season ahead for our needs.
Just remember how a Pro Bowl cornerback went from starting no team to reigning Super Bowl champions in about five days. And stay on the lookout for all-in-ones you want to recruit in your industry and in your business.
Most importantly: don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask.
(If you liked this article, hope you can download my free ebook, Tom Brady always wins, which you can find here.)