5 lessons Bill Belichick's New England Patriots can teach you about leadership

The first football game I ever watched was the 2001 Super Bowl victory by the New England Patriots over the best team in the league that year, the St. Louis Rams.

That win helped begin what has been an uninterrupted success. Since that 2001 victory, the Patriots have been to the playoffs 13 out of 15 years, have had nine Semi-Final Appearances, seven Finals Appearances and four League Championships.

Since co-founding my own start-up at Exact Media, I've come to appreciate the organization that is the New England Patriots even more than the team itself.

The Patriots are the picture of stability in a league filled with constant change. It's a great parallel to what it feels like to build a company.

After following this team for 15 years, there are five lessons from this organization that I continue to embrace in my daily life.

Wide receiver Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots in action.
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Wide receiver Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots in action.

Lesson #1: Do your job. But stay flexible enough to take on new jobs quickly

"Do your job" is something Belichick says constantly to refocus his team's efforts on the field.

It means complete your assignments, execute to the best of your ability and trust that your teammates will do the same. In a company, that is the only way a team can be successful.

But the Patriots take it a step further. With the Patriots your job may change from week to week.

It may be a subtle change, such as focusing on running the football versus throwing passes.

Or it may be drastic, like changing your position mid-season. Receivers Troy Brown and Julian Edelman were asked to switch from playing offence to playing defense when that's what the team needed.

In life, the only thing that is certain in the future is that things will change.

The Patriots are built to embrace change. Your team should be too.

Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff.
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Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

Lesson #2: Play the long game

During his first coaching stint in Cleveland, Belichick believed in developing talent from within and took a long view in building his organization.

In his book "War Room," author Michael Holley says, "[Belichick] believed in developing scouts and coaches by hiring them for entry-level positions and then seeing if they could graduate from unofficial apprenticeships."

In the 2017 Super Bowl, Belichick's team is going up against the Atlanta Falcons, led by Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli, two members of his staff who he trained and developed over 15 years.

When evaluating players, Belichick cares only about their future potential production. He often cuts popular veterans and replaces them with more cost-effective options that will benefit the team for a longer period of time.

Belichick ignores media scrutiny and does what is best for the organization, so it will succeed.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is a perfect example of how this is applied in the business world. He doesn't care what Wall Street thinks of their quarterly earnings, and he doesn't show up to the quarterly conference calls. He's focused on the long-term too.

Former Patriots Receiver, Chad Johnson.
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Former Patriots Receiver, Chad Johnson.

Lesson #3: Push your top performers, use them to set an example

Former Patriots Receiver Chad Johnson compares Bill Belichick to the drill sergeant from "Full Metal Jacket." During Chad's first day with the team in 2011, Belichick started the meeting by chastising the poor performance of Tom Brady, their starting quarterback, best player and future Hall of Famer. He blamed it for the team's exit from the playoffs the previous season.

Pushing even their best player to be better set the tone for the rest of the organization.

"I believe to have a championship team you want to have a championship team in every area, whether that's your starting quarterback, your strength coach, your medical staff, your area scouts, whatever it happens to be," Belichick said during his near 40-minute address. "We're trying to work at a championship level of performance in every one of those areas."

If you show that your best employees are still continuously pushed to improve, it makes it clear to the entire organization that the bar is set high. This leads to quality output.

Stephen Neal #61 of the New England Patriots in action against the Cleveland Browns.
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Stephen Neal #61 of the New England Patriots in action against the Cleveland Browns.

Lesson #4: Put your team members in the best position to succeed

Bill Belichick often says to scouts, "Tell me what the guy can do, don't tell me what he can't do, and we'll find a way to put that positive skill set in the defense and not ask him to be in a position where he can fail."

The Patriots coaching staff has been incredibly successful at finding players no one else wants and turning them into stars.

A great example of the effectiveness of their system is Stephen Neal. He was a wrestler and hadn't played football since high school until he joined the New England Patriots. They turned him into a three-time Super Bowl Champion.

In your organization, make sure you're investing in building robust training, development and retention systems. It's important to know how to use the talent at your disposal, and also to have systems in place to train and develop new team members so they can succeed.

Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots and Tony Gonzalez #88 formerly of the Atlanta Falcons.
Kevin C. Cox | Getty Images
Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots and Tony Gonzalez #88 formerly of the Atlanta Falcons.

Lesson #5: Respect your competition

Before every game, Belichick praises the competition, no matter how poor their record may be.

As a leader, Belichick knows that past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results, though effort and participation can help.

Reminding his team that the competition is getting better every day mitigates the complacency and laziness that can come with success.

Ensure that your team continues to have respect for the opposition so they continue to put in the work that made them winners in the first place.

Daniel Rodic is the co-founder of Exact Media and Co-Host of the Connections Podcast. He was named Top 30 Under 30 by Forbes Magazine and Marketing Magazine, was named EY Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist in 2016 and represented his country at the G20 Entrepreneurs Summit in Moscow and Beijing.