Tom Brady and the Act of Signing Autographs for Teammates
By the time future Hall of Fame Quarterback Tom Brady was nearing retirement, he was famous even among his new teammates on the Tampa Bay team where he played his last three seasons. Believed to be the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) at the quarterback position, even his fellow NFL colleagues were in awe of his record and status.
In the empty locker next to his, teammates would leave various photos, shirts, and memorabilia in the hopes Brady would sign them for their friends and family. Brady never disappointed. He was happy to place his signature on whatever item was left for him and with a note to whoever his teammates directed him to write to. He often spent hours signing the mementos with one idea in mind.
Beyond being a good guy and teammate, Brady knew a secret of motivation and inspiration. Making people look special in the eyes of their friends and family inspired them and created a bond between him and each player which would last for years.
That he would go out of his way to offer his autograph to whatever was left for him to sign was a signal to the friends and families of his colleagues. It said loudly that his teammates were held in high esteem by him. In the eyes of those on the receiving end of the mementos, they didn’t just think highly of Brady. They now knew the special status of his prized teammate.
Making others look special or influential in the eyes of those they care about creates a connection between leaders and teammates that can’t be easily broken. While no one would explicitly ask to be made to look special or influential, when leaders elevate the specialness of team members or colleagues in the eyes of others, they inspire them in a way nothing else can. People will do anything they can for a leader who goes out of their way to hold them up and to position them as special to others.
When was the last time you made someone you work with look that special?