These are some notes from Bill Walsh’s book on leadership entitled “The Score takes care of itself.” I think they are very worthy of consideration as you assemble and teach the standards that you expect for your basketball program.
When Walsh arrived with the 49ers, he didn’t have a timetable for a championship. He had an urgent timetable and agenda for installing specific behavioral norms for everyone’s attitudes and actions.
He implemented what he called his standard of performance—a way of doing things and a leadership philosophy having to do with core values, principles and ideals that applied to everyone in the organization. It has more to do with the mental than with the physical.
His belief is that organizational ethics are crucial to the ultimate and ongoing success of a team. “Good talent with bad attitude equals bad talent.”
The dictates of the leader’s personal beliefs should become the characteristics of the team. His or her philosophy is the single most important point on a leadership compass. It is a blueprint for what should be done, when it should be done, and why it should be done.
These are the basic characteristic of attitude and action that Bill wanted to instill:
Bill Walsh’s Standard of Performance:
- Exhibit a ferocious and intelligently applied work ethic directed toward continual improvement.
- Demonstrate respect for each person in the organization and the work he or she does.
- Be deeply committed to learning and teaching which means increasing our own expertise.
- Be fair.
- Demonstrate character.
- Honor the direct connection between details and improvement.
- Relentlessly seek improvement.
- Show self control especially when it counts most—under pressure.
- Demonstrate and prize loyalty.
- Use positive language and have a positive attitude.
- Take pride in my effort as an entity separate from the results of that effort.
- Be willing to go the extra distance for the organization.
- Deal appropriately with victory and defeat, adulation and humiliation.
- Promote internal communicatin that is both open and substantive (especially under stress).
- Seek poise in myself and those I lead.
- Put the team’s welfare and priorities ahead of my own.
- Maintain an ongoing level of concentration and focus that is abnormally high.
- Make sacrifice and commitment the organization’s trademark.
- The leader must exhibit the principles, code of conduct, and behavior that he is asking others to emulate.
Process vs Result
- Aim for a Standard of Performance (which is absolute) vs winning (which is relative to others).
- “Process” of improvement leads to “result” of victory and not vice-versa.
- Focus on process which produces results and not on results.
- Promotions/wins/sales quotas are results, they do not provide information about performance. And its important to dig into performance to find truth hidden behind these results.
On organization culture
- Know it all bull headed people are dangerous.
- In an organization, its not just important for individuals to know their own role but they should be aware of roles of other people as well.
- Success belongs to everyone and so as the failure.
- Never let your colleagues down, you win with them, you lose with them. Therefore, defend them.
- Winners act like winners before they are.
- Hostile relations are toxic – one enemy does more damage than good of 100 friends. Enemies consume time, energy and attention – all limited resources.
- An organization emulates leader’s work ethics.
- A little humor is important to keep a check on stress and anxiety.
- Give credit where its due, fewer things offer greater return on investment than praise.
- Be prepared – visualize future, think about all possible situations, prepare your responses for them in advance.
- Responses are temporary – Make moves to counter competitor but remember that competitor is going to come back with counter move soon, so, be prepared for that.
- A leader cannot be casual in any area of life, all his moves must be well thought of with great attention to details.
- A leader must have strength of will to carry out his decisions and to be able to stick with them in adverse situations.
- Focus on important problems for the organization rather than peripheral stuff (stuff which does not add to bottom line should not get too much attention).
- A good leader produces self-sustaining organization which functions well even in his absence.
- People are motivated only by their inner voice, teach a new inner voice to followers which will motivate them.
- The focus should be on motivating people to do “their best” rather than “crush the opponent” – though occasionally “crush the opponent” works too.
- Be wary of titles (“genius” in case of Bill Walsh), they haunt you later when performance goes down.
- Criticize people for “current” mistakes (and not the ones committed earlier). Also, give some positive feedback afterwards.
- When describing expectations from employees, don’t be subtle, be explicit and set the record straight.
- Big ears (better listener) are better than big egos – Listen, Learn, Lead.
- Be the leader – without the formal title (titles produces hierarchy and reduce communication)
- Be unpredictable – People become comfortable with predictable leaders, unpredictability/uncertainty allows a leader to prevent people from settling in comfort zone.
- A leader treats his people like his family members – money alone cannot motivate people for long.
- Teaching is important part of a leader’s life – Having a passion for teaching, expertise in the subject, being able to communicate clearly his ideas and have persistence to teach are important.
- The bottom 20% can determine the outcome – Ensure that they are motivated.
- Avoid dance of death – If the failure is imminent, don’t give in, keep fighting, lose with dignity.
- Tell people – “I believe in you”
- Don’t push people to their limits all the time, try to maintain a sustainable level of performance and keep the reserves ready for emergency.
You can read through a part of the book by clicking on the link below and then on the “Click to Look Inside” page you land on at amazon.com
- Keep superiors informed of your activities – Err on the side of over communication.
- Make your mentors and learn from them – A good leader is always learning.
- A leader aims for perfection, he does not settle for 99%.
- A leader focuses on performance rather than getting distracted by rumors and gossips.
- A leader ensures that his followers can advance their career, he does not backstab them for his personal or organizational gains.
- A leader succeeds by meticulous planning and not by hoping for a surprise (though the execution appears as a surprise to outside observers).
- When a leader makes a mistakes, he admits it and moves on.
- While judging a person, do not ignore the context.
- A pretty package cannot sell a poor product.
- A leader is discreet about whom he confides his secrets in, crying on wrong shoulder will have negative repercussions.