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The Lombardi Rules
26 Lessons from Vince Lombardiâ?"the World's Greatest Coach
By Vince Lombardi Jr.
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2012Vince Lombardi, Jr.
All rights reserved.
[check] The Lombardi Rules
A leadership book from a football coach?
My father, Vince Lombardi, was not a captain of industry. He didn't run a multi- billion dollar organization, and he never wrote books on business strategy. He was, simply, a very successful football coach. He tried to be other things—he began his career teaching high school physics, chemistry and Latin, in addition to coaching football and basketball—but soon found his true calling lay in exhorting others to greatness on the football field.
As coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1959 to 1967, Lombardi took a ragtag group of players that had floundered at the bottom of the National Football League for years, and—in only two seasons—molded them into a championship team. The Packers won NFL championships in 1961, 1962, and 1965, as well as the first two Super Bowls in 1966 and 1967. His brilliance as a coach became legendary, and his fame quickly spread from Green Bay, Wisconsin to the rest of the country.
But how does this relate to business? How do Vince Lombardi's winning ways on the football field apply to the corporate boardroom and the shopfloor to leaders who strive to make their organizations excellent? What does winning a football game have to do with closing a deal?
The answer lies less in what Lombardi achieved, and more in how he achieved it. My father was not only a great football coach; he was also a great leader.
It was his leadership—his ability to motivate his players, to inspire them to surpass their own perceived physical and mental capability, and his incredible will to win—that brought the nickname "Titletown, USA" to a small industrial city in Wisconsin, and brought national renown to the man, his methods and his players.
Lombardi had definite ideas about the qualities and tactics required for effective leadership. In the Lombardi model, leadership starts with a simple premise: only by knowing yourself can you become an effective leader. Once you understand yourself, you can start to grow and write your character, building the crucial attributes of a leader, such as character and integrity. Once these are developed, the building blocks are in place for you to become a successful leader.
This philosophy is presented in this book through 26 lessons in leadership, following the model laid out above. These techniques helped my father and the Packers be #1 on the football field, and I believe that they can help you and your organization be #1 in your field.
And they can do more. Lombardi's leadership model is about finishing first, but it's also about being a person of character, finishing what you start, never compromising your goals, and giving everything you've got to achieve your goals.
"Leadership rests not only on outstanding ability, but on commitment, loyalty, pride, and followers ready to accept guidance."
Ask others tough questions
[check] Ask yourself tough questions
The Lombardi code is founded on the belief that you can only become a leader after developing your character—that is, after building integrity, honesty, and commitment. The way to develop these attributes is through self-knowledge. You can't improve what you don't understand.
The first steps on the road to self-knowledge involve asking ourselves tough questions. For example: Is there an overriding purpose in my life, a purpose that is vivid and precise, a purpose I am committed to, a purpose that makes sense of everything I do?
It is sometimes helpful to recall the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: "What is my job on the planet? What is it that needs doing, that I know something about, that probably won't happen unless I take responsibility for it?"
We can only identify this purpose by taking a hard look at ourselves, and giving ourselves the quiet time necessary to seek the answers. But answering the question of purpose begs other important questions.
For example: Am I going to allow my life to be controlled by the crush of daily activities, or will I live my life in accordance with my purpose?
Do day-to-day urgencies always have to shove higher-order concerns to the side? Always?
Sometimes a purpose and a career are incompatible, and something has to give. (I don't think one could be both a cop and a bank robber for very long.) But sometimes a particular purpose can be squared with a particular career. It may take nothing more than reexamining your career, asking some questions, and discovering a purpose you have overlooked in the past.
Here are three steps you can take on the road to self-knowledge:
Get to know yourself: You can't improve upon something you don't understand. The more questions you ask yourself, the better you'll know yourself.
Learn from failure: Failure can bring some of the toughest questions of all. If you answer them fully and honestly, you may learn more from failure than you do from success.
Don't run for the sake of running: Make sure you're headed somewhere. If you're going all out without a clear destination in mind, slow down and ask some more questions.
"I'm no better nor less than the next man. But the thing about me is that I always knew what my acts would mean. I was lucky ... I found a singleness of purpose early on."
Be guided by convention
[check] Look the truth straight on
A key building block in the process of self-discovery is your willingness to look at the truth straight on. If you answer one or more of the tough questions mentioned in the first lesson without being fully honest, you gain nothing. Goals built on half-truths are almost certain to fail when push comes to shove. If you can't act on your convictions in a crunch, then success is out of the question.
A person who is grounded in truth doesn't have to look very far to find the right thing to do. When you are guided by the truth, you are the same person in private as you are in public. Looked at from the other end of the telescope, you know that what you do in private matters. Any talk of being able to "compartmentalize" your life, so that what you do in private has no bearing on your public life, is a fiction. Your principles only count if you live them, on and off the playing field.
If you're still not persuaded, consider this. As a leader, you can't build a team, department, or company that's a whole lot different from yourself—well, who are you? Do you want your company to have shaky foundations built on dishonest goals? If the answer is no, then make sure these things aren't part of you, either. The researcher can't help but influence what he's observing, and the inventor can't take himself out of his creation.
Honesty also plays an important role in the interactions between a leader and his organization. Without complete honesty, there can be no trust, and if your people don't trust you, you can't lead them. Trust is earned through patient investment and a consistent track record, and it can be destroyed in an instant. As a leader, you will be closely watched, and everything you say will have meaning for your people. Actions that contradict your message—or dishonest messages—will destroy trust and be used as an excuse not to take you seriously.
Here are three things to consider in your search for the truth:
Don't try to fake it: People have an unerring nose for dishonesty, fraud, and pretense. To be successful, you must be honest with yourself and ot
Excerpted from The Lombardi Rules by Vince Lombardi Jr.. Copyright © 2012 by Vince Lombardi, Jr.. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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