Three Leadership Observations from Tom Brady

Tom Brady is a seven-time Super Bowl champion and five-time Super Bowl MVP.

As a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan, that is a sentence that stings me to my core. For decades – LITERALLY DECADES – I’ve hated watching #12 march onto the field because defeat was all but inevitable.

At 43 years old and in his 21stseason, Tom Brady continues to dominate the NFL and is clearly the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time). But is he the G.L.O.A.T. (greatest leader of all time)?

In recent years, I’ve pushed my bitter fanhood aside and have come to terms with the greatness of Tom Brady — not only as a player but as a leader. There are three key, observable leadership behaviors that I believe have made Brady the most decorated football player of all time: Self-discipline, self-regulation and self-determination.

Self-Discipline and Self-Regulation

Beyond his football accolades, Tom Brady has become well known for his “TB12 Method,” a self-driven philosophy that embodies self-discipline and self-regulation for peak performance. These two leadership skills combine to form the leadership competency of self-control and management — defined within our BUILD leadership model.

Self-control and management

Leaders who possess the competency of self-control and management use self-regulation and self-discipline to promote high performance.

  • Self-Regulation: An individual’s ability to use information to adjust their behaviors to promote high performance.
  • Self-Discipline: An individual’s ability to reduce behaviors that hinder performance that can be improved through repeated use. 

Through TB12 (founded in 2013), Brady has created a strict physical and nutritional routine designed to maximize his performance and elongate his career. Some of these guidelines include:

  • A diet of 80 percent fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes and 20 percent protein (chicken, red meat, seafood). No dairy, caffeine, or nightshades. The diet emphasizes whole foods and limits any food thought to promote inflammation.
  • Muscle pliability as a core component of physical exercise
  • Minimum eight hours of sleep; in bed by 9 p.m.

Brady attributes his longevity and success to his TB12 method — built in alongside hours of daily practice and film study. Through this strict routine, Brady intentionally sought out information to adjust his off-field behaviors and limit behaviors that could hinder his football performance.


Self-determination is an individual’s perception that they can choose to engage in behaviors that are instrumental in achieving goals.

Brady was the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL draft and was constantly overlooked throughout the early stages of his football career. He lacked many of the physical attributes that teams looked for in a franchise quarterback – something that has been well-documented in recent years. But that never stopped him from believing he could be the greatest quarterback in the history of football.

His self-determination and wisdom brought new life to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad that had not made the playoffs since 2007. Throughout Super Bowl week, Brady reportedly texted all his teammates each night with a simple message: “We will win.”

Last night, Tampa Bay put together its best performance of the season and Tom Brady solidified his legacy as not only the greatest player of all time — but the greatest leader in the history of football.

TB x TB = Super Bowl LV Champions


Image Credit: All-Pro Reels from District of Columbia, USA

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May 14, 2021 at 1:31 pm
Israel Dozier

Thanks for this article Dylan. Im using some of this information for a project on leaders around the world and why makes them a successful leader. Im citing you in my project so dont worry. Thank you for this valuable information.


Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.