Leadership

How Drew Brees helped the Saints go from a losing record in 2005 to Super Bowl champs

Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints
Gregory Shamus | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images
Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints

Saints quarterback Drew Brees is looking to lead his team to its second Super Bowl championship in franchise history. The team will get that much closer this Sunday when the Saints play the Rams in the NFC Championship at 3:05 pm ET.

New Orleans' first Super Bowl title came in 2010, when the Saints, with Brees at the helm, beat the Indianapolis Colts.

But the 40-year-old quarterback and his team haven't always been on top: When Brees first joined the Saints in 2006, the team was coming off a dismal 3-13 season.

It was during that low point when Brees cemented his leadership, his former teammate Steve Gleason tells ESPN. "We were meeting as a team," Gleason recalls of the start to the 2006 season. "And as Coach [Sean] Payton was wrapping up, unplanned and unannounced, Drew said, 'Hey, Coach, can I talk to the team for a bit without the coaches?' ... He was willing to stand in front of uncertain teammates and set lofty, even outrageous goals, for a team that had gone 3-13 the year before."

"I remember being nervous for him," Gleason continues. "Drew listed the characteristics that he saw as vital to achieve the goal he set for us: courage, resilience, poise, discipline, unity, etc. Not only that, as he listed each characteristic, he talked about players in the room who embodied those characteristics. The team was captivated. We had our leader."

That year, the Saints not only improved their record, they went 10-6 and won their division.

"Drew listed the characteristics that he saw as vital to achieve the goal he set for us: courage, resilience, poise, discipline, unity, etc." -Steve Gleason, former Saints teammate

Gleason isn't the only teammate Brees left an impression on.

Former Saints player Lance Moore tells ESPN about his first interaction with Brees at the start of the 2006 season. Having just returned from an injury, he was "a little bit nervous," Moore recalls. "And of course Drew Brees is there bright and early over by his locker. … And sure enough he walks over to me at my locker, introduces himself to me and just tells me if there's anything I ever needed, let him know and he'd help any way he could.

"So for a young guy to have your Pro Bowl starting quarterback come up to you and just kind of open up the lines of communication, that was awesome for me, that was big."

After all, the best leaders — on the football field or in any work environment — have excellent communication skills.

As Virgin Group founder and self-made billionaire Richard Branson says: "Communication makes the world go round. It facilitates human connections, and allows us to learn, grow and progress."

Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett agrees: "If you can't communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you're giving up your potential."

Don't miss: Drew Brees reveals the daily routine he hopes will let him play football until he's 45

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