The Secret to Bill Belichick’s Success

The New England Patriots have won all but two AFC East titles since 2001, and haven’t had a losing season since 2000. Think it’s all because of Bill Belichick sick coaching skills? Think again. Bill Belichick’s primary responsibility isn’t just coaching–it’s making sure the team is made up of the best players (and coaches) for every position at any given moment. Belichick’s primary responsibility is talent density.

Last week, Swami Kumaresan (Entrepreneur in Residence at General Catalyst Partners; Former SVP, Product and Engineering at Carbonite) stopped by Exchange as Swami Kumaresan Photoa guest speaker to share his thoughts on building exceptional teams. Swami was instrumental in Carbonite’s growth, helping lead the company to its 2011 IPO, but his proudest accomplishment is building strong teams. When asked to share how he’s cultivated the right talent mix, density always emerges as a recurring theme; you have to get the right people on the bus.

So, what is talent density? In short, managers and coaches (like Belichick) have to be fanatical about recruiting and cultivating stars for their teams if they want to win. This idea typically sparks concern in our Exchange sessions among managers; they react by pointing to their team members’ potential, or their stellar attitudes, urging that “the stars” aren’t the only people who can play to win. But people want to be surrounded by team members who are exceptional at what they do, who lift them up, who push them to do their best by leading with a positive example, who help them learn and grow by sharing their own insight and experience. If this reminds you of the Netflix Culture Deck – you’re getting the message!

Believe focusing on talent density is good advice? We had a full 60 minutes with Swami jam-packed with tips. Check in with us next week to get the scoop straight from Swami himself on why he believes in the importance of managers fostering trust on their teams, and discover the difference between “trust in agenda” and “trust in ability”.

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