The New England Patriots are probably the most successful NFL team in the past 15 years. The team has won the American Football Conference East for 13 of the past 15 years, averaged 11.65 wins and 4.35 losses per season, won the AFC six times and the Super Bowl four times.
What entrepreneur wouldn’t want a record like that? Leadership starts at the top and a big part of that record is Bill Belichick, Patriots head coach since 2000. He has missed his team's being in the playoffs only twice in 15 years.
In many ways the New England Patriots resembles a corporation. Belichick refers to every member of the organization as a shareholder: Every player has a share of the team but it’s not always an equal share.
Belichick knows that culture beats strategy every time. He knows it’s not the Xs and Os that win championships. It’s the Jimmys and Joes. He also knows talent alone isn’t enough. At the highest levels, all players are talented. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be there.
The beauty of what Belichick has done is that he has created an environment where good personnel can achieve great results. So run your business like Bill Belichick. Follow his blueprint and you can do the same thing without a roster of overpaid employees.
The biggest factor in the Patriots' success is the use of a comprehensive, highly targeted screening mechanism to find players who are the right fit. The philosophy is that fit trumps talent for every position. And this process filters out the wrong prospects.
Belichick is aware of who the Patriots are and seeks like-minded players who share the core values.
Coach Belichick is exacting. He values team chemistry over individual talent and holds accountability as a top priority. Not every professional athlete is willing to perform under his rules and regulations.
He likes it that way because the filtering mechanism is at work. He and his scouts just need to go out and find the right free agents who would be a fit for his system. Belichick understands the importance of repelling the suspects in order to attract the best prospects. Do you?
The Patriots brand is so well-positioned, differentiated and articulated that everyone else in the league knows who Belichick is, what he’s about and what the New England Patriots organization stands for.
Business, like football, is a team sport. Take a page from Belichick's personnel playbook to save you time, money and headache in building your championship team. Sign the right players with the right mindset and goals to have a unit that's greater than the sum of the parts.
Here are the three values that guide the New England Patriots:
Belichick and his scouts seek out players with a genuine passion for playing football not for the lifestyle that comes with being a pro athlete.
This is why when Belichick and his scouts interview prospects they ask questions to uncover the person’s passion for the game.
You need to ask the same type of questions. Business, like football, is hard work and when a person loves what he or she is doing, it doesn’t feel like work.
Belichick likes his team to plays a very complex, cerebral strategy so Belichick and his scouts know they need intelligent players, athletes with intellectual curiosity, commitment, a strong work ethic and followthrough.
This is important because football is more of a grind than other sports. Unlike what's the case for basketball or baseball, football players play only once a week. As a former coach, I can tell you that players don’t get better in games: They get better through the repetition of practice.
But this is only the case if the players have a passion for practicing and are coachable.
I imagine Belichick places a budget on each position and will not waiver from it regardless of how talented the individual may be when it's contract renegotiation time.
If a player is not performing up to what Belichick thinks should be his value, he probably rebalances the budget so to speak and releases that player.
With the organization structured in this manner, the team would never be at the mercy of the marketplace or a player.
Sure, players can make more money elsewhere and some do opt to leave but others would rather take less money and stay. (Tom Brady's new contract offers a case in point.)
No one player controls the Patriots. Belichek's strategy has been proved time and time again. It sends a message about the importance of the team's culture to the entire roster.
A successful corporation in any industry is not beholden to any one employee. The company must always put itself ahead of the individual even the superstar.
To run your business like Belichick, think of the long term while preparing in the short term. Everything you do from a personnel standpoint in your organization has consequences for someone else in the company. Remember: The team is the superstar.