Do these names mean anything to you: Marc Bulger, Chad Pennington, Tee Martin, and Giovanni Carmazzi? To refresh your memory, they were the four quarterbacks who were chosen before Tom Brady was drafted by the New England Patriots.
On paper, they looked better than Brady in every way. The NFL said they would be much better quarterbacks than Brady, who was one round away from selling insurance.
Tom Brady has been overlooked and underappreciated by coaches his entire career. He was never a full-slated starter at Michigan despite coming off the bench and leading the team to two unbelievable comebacks.
Now, how many Super Bowl rings do these four players have? Nada. And I’ll let you remember how many Brady has. Tom Brady is an extraordinary winner. If you have any doubts about that, watch Super Bowl 51 against Atlanta.
But even after that, he had another two Super Bowl appearances for New England, one of which he won. He would have won another except play-by-the-number disciplinarian Belichick decided to bench Super Bowl 49 hero Malcolm Butler for being late to a meeting. Really? Are we in junior high?
Even then, the Patriots were ready to put Brady out to pasture because statistics said he was done. But of course, we all know he was not.
The Brady story is a perfect example of not being able to recognize, appreciate, or manage the extraordinary performers, the great ones, the ones who, according to the stats, should not be great. That’s because there are no statistics to measure heart, determination, and passion. Most coaches and managers do not have the vision to see beyond the stats and measure those things.
What about us? Can we understand and appreciate that passion? Can we recognize it when a person is so extraordinary that we will not be able to manage or lead them by the book? We are going to adapt, to find a way to capitalize on their greatness, and encourage them to function at their full potential.
Bill Russell led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA Championships in his 13-year career. At one point, he had nine in a row. He was a great player but most importantly he was a great winner. The real difference was this extraordinary player was coached by Red Auerbach, who knew how to coach a player like Russell. Together, they made sports history.
How about you, as a sales manager or maybe a company leader? Do you know how to discover, appreciate, and manage extraordinary players? Do you know how to motivate and inspire them to their full potential?
I believe you need to look for these characteristics:
- Passion: Is the person passionate about what she does. Is she all in?
- Is he always learning everything about his job and his career?
- Is she career driven, not only focused on the job she has now but looking for and planning her successful career as well?
- Is he creative? Does he always find a way to get the job done? No matter what obstacles he faces, he gets it done.
- She has grace under pressure. While others around her are losing their heads, does she stay calm and move forward with confidence and assurance?
- Is he smarter than you, and can you accept that and go with it?
- Does she work well with others, creating a team effort? Do other teammates want to work with her? Do they look up to her as a leader?
- Is he determined to win, no matter what? Finding a way to win no matter how long it takes.
- Does she stand out among her peers in the industry, always finding ways to exemplify her leadership skills?
- Does he, in the end, perform better, far better than anyone else in his peer group?
And how about you as a leader of an extraordinary person?
- Are you ready to put your ego in your pocket and welcome team members who are smarter and better than you? Not many people can do this. Many of them cannot let go of their ego; they try to keep extraordinary employees down out of jealousy.
- Can you make doing their job as friction-free as possible, paving their path to greatness?
- Are you able to not only motivate but inspire your superstar to greatness? Coaching and encouraging them to exceed their greatest potential?
- Will you make your mark in their lives by being a great mentor to them? Understanding what they do best and helping them to do it better?
Finally, as a leader, you must be the one who encourages all your people, not just your superstars. If you can do this well, maybe you can start making everyone on your team extraordinary.
It’s only common sense.
Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.