In their final game of the regular National Football League (NFL) season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers created a stir. USA TODAY reported that “Tom Brady refused to leave Buccaneers’ Week 18 game until Rob Gronkowski got his $1 million bonus.”
The USA Today story continues, “…Rob Gronkowski went into this game with the possibility of earning up to $1 million in incentive bonuses. The veteran tight end needed seven catches and 85 receiving yards in order to hit his two incentives that were worth $500,000 apiece. Gronkowski made quick work of his receiving yards incentive as he caught a 42-yard pass from Tom Brady in the third quarter. However, he was still one catch away from that last incentive with less than seven minutes to go.
With the Buccaneers up by 14 at that point and the game in hand, there was a case to be made to begin resting their starters. However, Tom Brady can be seen telling coaches that he would not come out of the game and eventually only did so when Gronkowski cashed in on the half-million-dollar catch.”
Some people were frustrated by what unfolded – others saw it as a great example of teamwork. There’s no doubt that, to some degree, the discussion and debate about what unfolded in Week 18 will continue today when the Bucs take the field against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Whether you enjoy NFL games, are a fan of Tom Brady, or wanted to see the Bucs win/lose last week is irrelevant. The leadership lesson that we can all take from this story is about incentives, not football.
Here are three takeaways to consider:
1. Incentives drive behavior.
2. Incentives can build up or tear down a team.
3. Incentives need to be aligned to the long-term goals of the organization.
In light of these three realities, how could you improve your team’s incentives?
Make it a great day!
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.