Superior Performance: What Makes the Patriots Great

Superior Performance: What Makes the Patriots Great

by Dennis Parnell 

I must admit that with all of the controversy in the NFL this year, my interest in following the league waned quite a bit.  However, I was intrigued this past week to watch the game between the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars and the perennial Super Bowl favorites the New England Patriots.  Could an upstart team like the Jaguars compete with the likes of Tom Brady?  Or once again would the Patriots find a way to win their way to the ultimate prize?  In the era of “parity” in the NFL would the Patriots continue to outperform the other 31 teams…and if so, what can we learn from this organization?  

So after watching the fourth quarter comeback earning the Patriots the trip to Minneapolis, I had to reflect on what it might be that makes this organization so successful.  Here are my thoughts on some lessons that all organizations can learn from the New England Patriots. 

  1. Total organizational alignment: From the owner to the coaches to the players everyone was clear on the mission for the organization.
  2. Understand each person’s role: Every player clearly understood their individual role on each and every play and had to execute to the fullest extent.
  3. Execute the strategy flawlessly: The Patriots have developed a system…offensively, defensively and on special teams that has been tested and proven over time.  Even in the face of adversity…trailing by 10 points in the final 9 minutes, there was no panic or second guessing the system.
  4. The system is not dependent on an “individual”: The Patriots lost the second most important element of their offense when Gronkowski was injured and had to leave the game.  The Patriots compensated for that loss by utilizing other talent who stepped up for the team.
  5. Let the coach’s coach and the players play: I noted that Coach Belechick on the sidelines never interfered with either the offensive coordinator or the defensive coordinator. When the game started, his work was already done.  As the saying goes “When the concert begins, the conductor never says a word!”
  6. Confidence is contagious: Down by ten points with little time to go, Tom Brady, the team leader paced the sidelines encouraging his teammates…they then scored twice to pull off the win.
  7. Maintaining a non anxious presence: I saw no panic in the eyes of the head coach or in the eyes of the QB during the fourth quarter.  Anxiety has the ability to rattle the team and lose faith in the system. The Patriots remained calm and resilient and trusted the system
  8. The only win is a team win: How impressive was it during the post game interview to hear the team leader Tom Brady giving praise to the entire team.

I dare not offer a prediction about the outcome of any one game since the Patriots on any given day, any team can beat another.  However, in the long run for any organization to deliver ongoing superior performance in the face on ever increasing competition, we can learn some lessons from this NFL organization.



Dennis Parnell is a certified Executive Coach and has held significant Human Resource positions in the Service Industries.  He currently specializes in Leadership Coaching and is a valuable contributor to Miles LeHane Companies. Please send any comments to

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