The Belichick Principle: “Do Your Job”

The opening clip of Showtime’s Inside the NFL includes a snippet of Bill Belichick clapping his hands and saying to his players, “Do your job.” It is quite telling.

Bill Belichick has been the head coach of the NFL’s New England Patriots football team since 2000. He is one of the “winningest” coaches in the history of the game. In his tenure, the Patriots have:

  • Appeared in 5 Super Bowl games;
  • Produced 8 division titles, including five consecutive titles from 2003 to 2007;
  • Earned a 17–7 record in the playoffs;
  • Achieved a win / loss record of 139–53–0;
  • Enjoyed a winning percentage of over 72%; and;
  • Won 3 Super Bowl Championships;

Belichick is certainly headed to enshrinement in the National Football League’s Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

What is the secret to Belichick’s winning ways? It is difficult to pinpoint a lone characteristic that separates him from his fellow head coaches. However, it is clear that he has adopted one very simple management principle that he continues to apply to this day. It is “Do your job.”

The words are memorialized on a placard hanging just outside of the player’s entrance at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots home field located in Foxborough, Massachusetts. There is much implied in those three simple words, including being prepared, paying attention to detail, working hard, and putting the team ahead of yourself.

It also points to the need for the head coach to ensure that every member of his coaching staff and football team understand what their job is and that they prepare every day to execute it. In the words of Nick Saban, a Belichick protégé and the University of Alabama’s head football coach:

“Everybody says, ‘Be accountable,’ but sometimes nobody ever tells you exactly what the expectation is,” Saban says. “Bill was good at defining what he expected from everybody, and everybody buying in. Then the team had a chance to flourish because of it.”

Belichick stresses his principle because he believes when everyone is doing their job, the team wins championships. So, he is very careful to clearly define the expectations for every employee in his organization. We should do the same. It is the only way to position staff to assume the responsibility for delivering on desired outcomes.

There is no bigger desired outcome in the NFL than winning the Lombardi Trophy (awarded every year to the team that wins the Super Bowl) – Belichick and team have won three of them.

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