Tom Brady just won his 7th Superbowl. He did so a year after parting ways with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. Among the media hot takes after the game was the debate over who was more responsible for the 6 New England championships during the Brady-Belichick era. The answer of course is neither, or rather, both.
Even the best leader has blinds spots. But investing time and energy to get a little better at something you’re not good at is a low return activity – you might improve, but you’ll never be great. Better to leverage your towering strengths and find a sidekick to cover your weaknesses. My best work experiences have always come when paired with a complementary partner – sometimes a boss, sometimes a direct report or even sometimes a whole team.
Unfortunately, some leaders prefer the comfort of like-minded teammates. This produces alignment and harmony, but the lack of conflicting perspectives means the team will miss important questions and ultimately underperform.
In my work with leadership teams, I emphasize learning deeply about the styles, strengths and preferences of each team member – so the leader knows what to expect from each person, knows where to look to cover their own gaps and knows where they need to lean in to help overcome a collective team gap.
If you are wondering what Tom Brady thinks of the Belichick vs. Brady debate, he rejects it outright. When asked about it prior to Superbowl LV, Brady said,
I’ve never once in my life thought about that. Coaches don’t play, and players don’t coach. You need great coaches, and you need great players, and that’s the way the sport works. It’s not an individual sport. It’s a team sport. I’ve greatly appreciated what I’ve learned from the coaching mentors that I’ve had – certainly Coach Belichick. I couldn’t be who I am without those amazing coaches that I’ve had, and I couldn’t be the player I am without all the other playing mentors I’ve had.