Work and Money

How To Lead Like Tom Brady

Tom Brady leadership

Great leadership doesn’t happen overnight. But some have an innate ability to lead. Tom Brady is one of those leaders.

Tom Brady turned 40 last week. While I’m not a fan of the Patriots, I can’t deny the leadership chops of their Hall of Fame quarterback. When you read about his work ethic and look at his history, it’s hard to deny the greatness of his career and leadership. But how did Tom Brady achieve such greatness?

There’s a fun article on ESPN with several insider stories about Tom Brady and his exploits. Some of the stories are powerful and some are just silly, but each of them tells a deeper story about great leadership.

A Great Leader Know His Options And Chooses Wisely

A leader needs to know his options and wisely choose which one to take. During one practice teammate, Mike Vrabel calls for a pass during practice. Brady in some colorful words says, “I know who’s open. I’m the quarterback, I’ll throw it to whoever the f— I want!” He knew his options and he has five Superbowl wins to prove it.

A Great Leader Has An Amazing Work Ethic

Rodney Harrison, a long-time safety for the Patriots, tells a story of Brady’s work ethic in the gym. “I show up around 6:30 in the morning and he says to me, ‘Good afternoon!'” Over the next few days, Harrison shows up 15-30 minutes earlier each day and Brady continues to greet him by saying, Good afternoon.” Brady was always there first and already working out.

A Great Leader Has Fun With Her Team

After a game in Buffalo, the team heads to a BBQ place and have a beer-chugging contest. After some coaxing, they talk Brady into competing. Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer tells it like this, “We don’t usually get to experience him like this, but we finally coax him into doing it. He does it, and let me tell you, you couldn’t have poured out the beer faster into a glass.” A great leader is part of the team and has fun with the team.  

A Great Leader Has Vision and Confidence

Pat Kratus, a roommate from the University of Michigan, tells a story about Brady’s unwavering confidence and vision despite being a third string quarterback for the Patriots behind Drew Bledsoe, a four-time pro-bowler, and a Hall of Fame nominee. At a bachelor party, Kratus‘ cousin doesn’t believe Brady will ever start and Kratus says, ‘Tommy has worked really hard at it. He always seems to find a way to do it. I bet you he will be a starting quarterback when it’s all said and done.'” Yup, Pat you were right.

A Great Leader Cares About His Teammates

Offensive coordinator, Charlie Weis, went in for gastric bypass surgery one weekend and things went horribly wrong. Wrong to the point where he flatlined on the table and died but the doctors brought him back. During this traumatic experience, Brady spent the weekend with Charlie Weis’ wife to support and comfort her. Weis speaks of this experience, “From that day on, he wasn’t just the quarterback. There was a bond between Tommy and my wife and our family that had been created on nothing to do with football.”

A Great Leader Is Humble

Sebastian Vollmer, Patriots offensive tackle, shares a story about Brady’s humility. “I’m always impressed because when you walk into that locker room, everyone knows who Tom Brady is. But he introduces himself to every rookie: ‘Hey, my name is Tom Brady. I play quarterback.’ It’s not like, ‘I’m the guy.’ He’s not arrogant. Just humble from the perspective of, ‘I don’t expect you to know me, I am going to prove to you I can play.'”

A Great Leader Is Accountable

Matt Cassel tells a story of completing a pass during practice but forgetting to send a player in motion. This is what Cassel says happened, “And Brady immediately comes up to me right after and goes, ‘Cassel, you can’t miss that motion.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, but I completed the ball.’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, but how the hell are you going to yell at them to be accountable when they see that you messed up that motion?’ You have to be perfect at this position.” Brady knows as a leader people are always watching.

A Great Leader Knows The Competition

Bill O’Brien tells a story of Brady’s incredible memory and understanding of the game. Six years after this play has happened Brady says, “I remember we ran this play against this scheme called Crunch Stock in 2004.” O’Brien says, “You remember that specific play?” Brady says, “Yeah, I remember it against this specific coverage, which this coordinator loves to play. It was on the right hash, going away from the lighthouse, and we hit Troy Brown for a big gain on the crossing pattern.” Needless to say, Brady is aware of his competition.

There are many other attributes of a great leader and of Tom Brady as a leader but in these fun stories, his leadership is always on display both by accident and on purpose. Maybe the ultimate lesson here is a great leader lives every day and moment as best as they can as a leader.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell


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