Belichick and the 3 Principles of Adjustment
Successful leaders know how to adjust, not abandon, the overarching strategy.
This past Monday night, hazardous weather became the main attraction when the New England Patriots visited the Buffalo Bills. Bone-chilling temperatures, gale-force winds and nasty sleet made throwing and catching the football next to impossible.
So, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick knew he needed to alter his strategy.
Belichick has long believed that in order to win, you must first avoid losing, which means, no turnovers, no self-inflicted wounds, no bad offensive plays. With wind gusts of almost 55 miles per hour coming from all directions, he went into full run mode. He had no interest in putting the ball in the air because he felt it would have just led to mistakes and ultimately cost his team the game.
Buffalo, however, was prepared for this and limited New England early in the game. But instead of giving up on the strategy, Belichick adjusted his plan between each series and, before long, New England broke through to take an 8-0 lead, ultimately winning the game, 14-10.
Too often, though, leaders will develop a strategy that they think puts their team in the best position to succeed. But when they don’t see results quickly or any adversity arises, they’ll abandon their plan.
Once a strategy is in place that he feels gives his team the best chance to win on that day, he has strong convictions with it.
On Monday, Belichick followed the three core principles of adjustment. They are:
Understand Change. Determine the critical component that needs to be adjusted. Don’t settle for the easy answer, dig deep and make sure the core issue is handled first.
Plan Change. Once that core issue has been identified, then a new plan needs to emerge with exact details.
Communicate Change. Those details need to be communicated in a positive tone with conviction, so no one starts to doubt the overall strategy. When success follows, everyone becomes more confident.
All of us as leaders deal with windy conditions to an extent. We encounter external elements that we wish didn’t exist. What is most critical for any leader to be successful is understanding how to adjust, not abandon, the overarching strategy.
Too often, though, leaders abandon what’s actually a great plan because they don’t see the initial adjustments required. They lack the discipline and conviction to stay the course and instead surrender their ambitions to the short term.
It’s critical to remember that while there is no perfect strategy, there is always a perfect way to adjust it. Doing so separates those who win and those who come up short.
Adjust, don’t abandon.
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