Pardon me if you are a New England Patriots fan. I was once, but I just can’t do it anymore. They are good, but they cheat. And he – and the team – should be justly punished. They were, but a judge somehow saw fit to intervene and undermine the NFL Commissioner’s authority and overturn Brady’s punishment. I’m appalled. It’s crazy.
So lets consider the situation. Brady appealed his punishment to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell - basically the CEO of the NFL if we are equating this to the business world. Goodell basically said "no, you're still suspended...largely because you tampered with evidence by destroying a cell phone that we asked you to turn over." I realize these aren't exact quotes...just a summary of what happened.
If I cheated in an organization that I worked for, and the CEO was gracious enough to suspend me rather than fire me, I'd take the suspension. The last thing I would do - unless I was actually fired without cause - would be to go over my CEO's authority to a judge to try to get him to let me take over my project again.
Now let’s consider the business world. Let’s consider…what if Tom Brady was a project manager? What are the pros and cons of what he did and what he brings to the table at a high-level? And seriously, what should the final outcome be? Be thinking about how you feel about the situation – setting aside your personal feelings about him or his leader, Bill Belichick, for a moment while you try to consider this objectively.
Looks for an edge. What Tom Brady did – having the footballs deflated after the weigh-in - to try to gain an edge in the AFC Championship Game over the Indianapolis Colts could be seen as a take-charge action. Like a PM in a tight situation, he considered what might give his project team a slight edge and he took action. He was proactive and he was a quick decision maker. As a project manager on a large, complex project, we need to always be looking for an edge because often with changing customer needs and requests and requirements that are already complex and possibly hard to capture in great detail, we are always under the gun. Any edge helps. Apparently Tom Brady understands that well.
Leadership. There is no question Brady has the leadership skills that someone like a project manager needs to successful engage his teammates on a large-scale, complex project. He’s proven it several times – four to be exact – on the NFL’s largest stage…the Super Bowl.
Honesty. While his teammates may follow him off a cliff because of his leadership skills and ability to find and exploit any edge possible, his honesty has taken a huge hit a few times and over time that will erode a leader’s image – even within his own team. His legacy may, unfortunately, be deflatgate over four or more Super Bowl rings.
Integrity. See honesty…ditto.
Makes his own rules. Some may see this as a plus. I do not. We should respect those in authority over us. While he may respect his coach, Bill Belichick, he doesn’t seem to respect the rules and policies of the NFL and that’s critical. If you make your own rules, then you shouldn’t be allowed to play.
Conclusion / call for input
So, I think you know my conclusion. If Tom Brady was a project manager in my organization, I’d have to fire him. He broke rules, allegedly lied about it, and then allegedly destroyed evidence. He would have to be gone.
What’s your take? Would you want him in your organization? If you were the CEO that he lied to, could you keep him onboard knowing that everyone knew he lied? Knowing your project customers – your biggest and best clients – know that he lied. Could you continue with him in your organization?