Bill Walsh on Leadership

Bill Walsh is a towering figure in the history of the NFL. His advanced leadership transformed the San Francisco 49ers from the worst franchise in sports to a legendary dynasty. In the process, he changed the way football is played.

As Coach, Bill Walsh taught that the requirements of successful leadership are the same whether you run an NFL franchise, a fortune 500 company, or a hardware store with 12 employees.

These lessons were written in a few books, including The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership. This posthumous leadership guide by the acclaimed head coach of the San Francisco 49ers is a fascinating compendium of Walsh’s philosophy: the idea that if you have a consistently high quality process that you will produce a high quality product; you will always be in the base camp, close to the summit.

As a leader, his book will help you build the assembly line. The quality car (and football team) will follow. Below are some of Bill Walsh’s ideas on the Standard of Performance:

  • Culture precedes positive results. It doesn’t get tacked on as an afterthought on the way to the victory stand. Champions behave like champions before they are champions.
  • The exceptional assembly line comes before the quality car – strive to make your assembly line better and better.
  • All we can do is increase the probability of success. Do it by intelligently and relentlessly seeking solutions that will increase your chances of prevailing in a competitive environment. When you do that, the score will take care of itself.
  • Teach players to hate mistakes in games and practice – if you aim for perfection and miss, you’re still pretty good…if you aim for mediocrity…you’ll be mediocre.
  • “Organizational excellence evolves from the perfection of details relevant to performance and production.”
  • “I know what is required for us to win. I will show you what it is.”
  • “There are winners and there are people who would like to be winners but just don’t know how to do it.”

Below are his ideas in full

Bill Walsh Standard of Performance

Last week I wrote about a recent study that pointed out that most bosses don’t know what purpose is. Bill Walsh’s ideas might not have to do with purpose, but his ideas are all about culture and bringing out the best in everyone; that’s purpose.

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