By: Kathy Kent Toney, President of Kent Business Solutions
“Nothing is impossible.”
I love this quote from Brett Veach, the General Manager of the Kansas City Chiefs. He is one of the best, if not THE best GMs in football. Winning a Super Bowl has definitely helped him achieve this distinction, but the fact that he’s the youngest NFL GM to ever do it…that’s impressive.
He’s accomplished so much in three years in this role, one being the incredible players he’s brought to the team. It’s safe to say that winning it all wouldn’t have been possible without Veach’s leadership.
He’s such a great study on effective leadership, so he’s my inspiration for this week’s blog.
I've pulled the following four tips from a conversation that Andy Reid, Head Coach of the Chiefs, had with the media. His words describe how Veach “goes about his business," and I believe they have great application to our everyday business lives.
But before I do that, here’s a link to the 3rd and 15 play that turned the tide in the Super Bowl. This never gets old with me!
1. Let’s Explore
Brett has always been a voracious learner and thinks ahead. He has an amazing track record for exhaustively putting in the research to find great players. Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard, who used to work with the Chiefs, put it this way: "Any time you got into a discussion with Veach about players, you knew he had done the work." Veach is well known for pestering Andy Reid with a barrage of clips if he likes a player.
Brett said this about the players he looks for: “I think when you start with a relentless attitude and guys that have a passion for not just the game, but the process. These are guys that when you do your homework, they love to practice and they love to compete. . . I found out over my career if you really invest in guys that love the process, you’re going to be more successful than not. That’s where we started with those guys and it’s infectious and it carries through [the roster] from top to bottom.”
Putting in the homework upfront has made all the difference in the world for Veach…he’s built a championship team full of players with champion mindsets.
Lessons learned: Dig deep to understand everything you need to know about your situation or problem. By doing in-depth research before you make important decisions, you’ll lay a good foundation for your next steps.
2. Let’s Not Be Afraid to Go There
Veach is “fearless”, according to Andy Reid. He’s not afraid to make wrong decisions.
His persistence and boldness became evident on how he pestered Andy Reid and then-GM John Dorsey about Patrick Mahomes before the 2017 NFL draft. He kept telling Andy and his staff that he was one the best players that he had ever seen. For those of us in Chiefs Kingdom, we’re thankful that they listened!
This trend continued after he became the GM. He signed Sammy Watkins, Anthony Hitchens and Harrison Butker, who all became pivotal players during the Chiefs' Super Bowl run.
An even bolder move was totally blowing up the defense that caused the Chiefs to lose in the 2018 AFC Championship game. He traded away longtime players Eric Berry, Justin Houston and Derrick Thomas and brought in new Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to reshape the new defense.
When it comes to building and maintaining a championship team, Veach is unafraid to do what it takes to do just that.
Lessons Learned: Once you’ve done your homework and your pathway forward is clearer, be bold in your decision making. Go after your goals with a single-mindedness to achieve success.
3. Let’s Not Say It Can’t Be Done
Veach is so firmly convinced that things can be accomplished, “impossible” is not a word in his vocabulary.
There were many industry experts who said it would never be possible to keep the Super Bowl winning team together, due to common spending limits that all teams must adhere to (the salary cap). Multitudes of other teams who had won the big prize were not able to repeat soon after, due to cap limitations that weren't managed well.
Veach was not going to let that stop him! He set his mind on the goal and he worked relentlessly towards keeping the 2019 team together. Of course, we've yet to see if the Chiefs will win it all again. But at this point in time, the Chiefs are the team to beat, in the minds of many experts.
Lessons Learned: The old adage “When there’s a will, there’s a way” applies here. Refuse to believe something can’t happen. Just make up your mind to get ‘er done and tenaciously work towards that.
And this leads to the last point…
4. Let’s Find a Way To Get It Done
Veach proved all the naysayers wrong by bringing back all but two of the team’s starters before the start of the season. At the same time, he gave their top-tier players, the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Chris Jones, big fat contracts. It’s pretty miraculous, because at one point the cap space (amount available to spend) was only $177!
There’s no need to bore you with the details, so here's a statement by Patrick Mahomes, explaining Veach's actions in relation to these contracts: “He’s been relentless on finding a way to get it done where it’s not going to kill you down the road with deals, and so there have been a lot of man hours that he’s put into this, so my hat goes off to him.”
One important factor in this whole process is a foundation of high-trust that Veach has built with his players. This really paid off during contract negotiations. Case in point...Patrick could have been paid way above the amount of his recent deal, but he was willing to strike a balance between keeping the Super Bowl winning team together and getting paid for what he’s worth.
In the end, Patrick trusted Veach to do the right thing...now and in the future...by signing a 10-year deal. He believes that Veach will work with him in the future to revise the contract, if Patrick wishes to revisit it.
Lessons Learned: Work towards building trusted relationships with your team. When they see your willingness to go the extra mile for them, they’ll be more willing to do the same for you. This foundation of trust will help you more quickly iron out conflicting objectives with your team so that the whole organization will be more on board to reach its goals.
These principles have worked so well for the Chiefs, but the good news is that they can be also applied in businesses to build strong teams. In turn, these teams become better equipped to solve what appear to be impossible problems.
However, many organizations don’t have the bandwidth to even think about implementing new ideas or initiatives to address their challenges. Or there may be so many persistent issues, they don’t know where to start.
If that’s you, I’d love to help point you in the right direction!
My FIRM Fitness Assessment (FFA), a 100% virtual survey tool, can help you identify areas that need attention in your business and then prioritizes where to start first on making improvements. The FFA was created in conjunction with experts in their fields who have over 300 years of combined business experience.
Not only that, these same Alliance Partners of mine are available to help with any identified challenges you’d like to tackle, especially if you lack the bandwidth to address them.
Interested in learning more? Then click here to schedule a quick 15-minute conversation. I’d love to fill you in on the details!