Leadership Lessons From Thursday Night Football


“There is no way they will win” was the overwhelming narrative of last weeks Thursday night game between the Patriots and the Houston Texans. The starting quarterback (QB from now on) is on a four game suspension by the NFL, the backup QB injured his throwing shoulder 4 days earlier and the third string QB, Jacoby Brissett, is an unknown, or is he? The nation sat back in their Lazy Boy chairs waiting to see a collapse, football fans turned their attention to Thursday night football to see “Humpty Dumpty have a great fall”, I must admit, as a Raider fan I was. Instead, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots won 27-0 and provided us with valuable leadership lessons.

Lesson # 1: Play To Your Strengths 

Too often when a QB goes down teams put in their backups and expect them to play like the starter instead of playing to the strengths of the backup. The Patriots do this well and almost at all positions of the football field. They didn’t expect Jacoby Brissett to go out on the field and play like Tom Brady. Instead the Patriots adjusted their game plan to the strengths of Jacoby Brissett and the rest of the team, they didn’t throw everything on his shoulders.

Sometimes as leaders we try to do it all instead of leading from our strengths. Leaders must lead from their strengths, recognize their weaknesses  and recruit others who are strong where the leader is weak.

Lesson # 2: Make Sure Everyone Knows Their Role

When I watch the Patriots, it seems to me, that everyone has a designed role. From coach to player, everyone knows their role in the organization and each person  performs to the best of their ability to accomplish that role. A bad example of this is the USC Trojans who sent out 8 men on the field when there should be 11. When everyone knows their role and has an assignment on a team, value is placed on each member. When people feel valuable, a part of the vision and mission of the team and believe “without me fulfilling my role we will fail” you are on your way to a successful culture.   Do you think Jacoby Brissett felt valuable week 1? I can almost guarantee you, as an outsider looking in, those coaches coached value to Jacoby Brissett

Lesson #3 Know Your Weaknesses

I don’t know if you watched the game, but the Patriots didn’t go out there and treat Jacoby Brissett like Tom Brady in his first start. They knew if they did that they would fail. The coaching staff of the Patriots developed a game plan for Jacoby Brissett taking into account his strengths and weaknesses. They seem to do this at every position and adjust gameplans to account for their weaknesses game to game.

Knowing your weaknesses is as valuable, if not more, as knowing your strengths because when you know your weaknesses you can develop safeguards and systems to help prevent you from being the cause of your own demise. 

Lesson #4 Create And Recruit To Your Culture

The Patriots have a certain culture and they recruit to that culture. Just ask yourself, if you are a football fan, have you ever heard of Jacoby Brissett? The Patriots recruit players who they believe fit their culture of hard work, team mentality, everyone knows their role and does their part culture. When Jacoby Brissett scored his first touchdown, he didn’t do a dance, celebrate in the endzone or spike the ball. He walked to the sideline and handed the ball to Coach Belichick, who does that? Patriots do. In the end what does Belichick do? Gives the ball back. Who does that? Patriots do. In the end Belichick praises Jacoby Brissett for being a guy that fits in their culture, but I am pretty sure they knew that when they recruited him.

Leaders create a servant leadership culture and recruit others who fit the mold.

Until Next Time

Soli Deo Gloria




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