Leadership Lab

Tom Brady is the New GLOAT

5 Leadership traits you can learn from the Patriots football legend.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few weeks, you’ve heard that the New England Patriots made history in the greatest Super Bowl comeback ever — led by none other than Tom Brady (and giving him his 5th ring). They call him the GOAT, but at we like to call him the GLOAT: Greatest Leader of All Time. On the contrary, he doesn’t gloat — but you get the picture.

I’m not a big football fan. But even the haters can’t deny Tom Brady is half god, half legend and has the leadership traits to prove it.

As a fellow half-time enthusiast, I came to watch the Gaga-not the game itself. And yet, I found myself glued to the screen. This non-football gal even let out a cheer or two when the plays were starting to shift drastically in the 4th quarter.

While it takes the whole team, Brady’s leadership shone through as he rallied the squad and skillfully led them to the big win. His behavior mirrors many points leadership expert, Jim Collin describes in his book, “Good to Great”. Here are 5 Brady-inspired leadership traits to consider emulating whether you are on the field or at your stand-up desk.

1. Humility

With 5 Super Bowl Championships, 4 Super Bowl MVP Awards and 12 All Star Game wins, it’s clear Brady has achieved ultimate football fame, yet he remains humble. He cares more about what’s best for his team rather than his own ego. Like Jim Collin’s Mirror and Window theory, when there’s success, Brady acknowledges his o-line, his receivers, the play of the running backs…the list goes on. And when things don’t go so well he doesn’t blame his team, but instead looks in the mirror, identifying where he could have been stronger, better. As a manager one of the most important traits one can have is to maintain a sense of humility and understanding of those on your team. It helps to build trust and encourage collaborative teamwork.

2. Will

Brady’s strong will to play the game and to play it right is a trait every determined leader needs. Many of us know, back in 2000 Brady wasn’t even drafted until the 6th round — the 6th! And still, he has shown the confidence and drive to push him to the top. Within the 15 seasons Brady has been the starting quarterback for the Patriots, he’s driven the team to be the NFL’s greatest dynasty of all time. Collins would call this Brady behavior Professional Will, when a leader will do whatever it takes for the best results, no matter how difficult they may be to achieve. Without will, forget it. It’s the high level of drive that motivates your team. And more importantly, it’s the discipline that helps you reach your goals.

3. Readiness

From his career start, Brady has come prepared. During his second year in the league as a back-up QB he took over for Drew Bledsoe and led the team to a Super Bowl victory. Before the game even starts, Brady is prepped and primed to dominate the field. From studying the moves of his competition, to practicing endless routines with teammates he’s ready for anything. To go a step further, Brady knows which players to leverage, and how, in order, to attack the game challenges ahead.

“It’s not an up-and-down thing,” coach Bill Belichick comments on Brady’s readiness. “It’s consistent every week in terms of learning the defense, learning their schemes and their players. He’s able to put it all together better than any player that I’ve ever coached. Putting all that together at once in just a couple of seconds of time, he has to process it once he gets the calls and gets to the line of scrimmage. I think his preparation allows him to in part do that. He has the football instincts, as well. He’s a great role model for all of us. Any player and any coach. All of us.”

A new manager may not have all the right answers all the time, but coming to the table as prepared as possible can only help your team reach their peak performance. You’ll be better off when tackling problems you do see, but also the ones you don’t.

4. Ambition

At age 39, Brady’s long term commitment and persistence throughout his football career has rightfully earned him 4 MVP Super Bowl Awards. Simply put, Brady sets the bar high for his team and is always looking for ways to exceed those expectations. Heck, even when the Patriots win a game Brady still claims he and his teammates could have played better.

As Brady said himself, “My favorite ring is always the next one.”

Our leadership guru, Collins would explain Brady as “modeling the way”. Brady sets an example for his team on and off the field. This drive for greatness cannot be turned off and on like a switch but is a mindset — a way of being. Leading by doing is one of the best practices managers need to own. Not only will you set the tone for the work ethic by having ambition, but you will build trust with your fellow teammates.

5. Focus

Perhaps one of the most important leadership traits Brady maintains is his focus. Coach Belichick creates a shared vision at the beginning of the season and Brady owns it. When he’s on the field it’s game time. Period. Aside from this strategic vision, Brady stays grounded even when things get tough. He’s focused on constant improvement, without radically reacting to the environment, but working on what he’s able to control. His effort, output and execution are on another level of discipline. Collins describes this type of attention and consistent effort towards a vision the 20 Mile March. When managers can maintain this sheer focus in the mix of their everyday challenges, they will grow into better leaders for their team and themselves.

End of story be Tom Brady. Be the new GLOAT.