The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership

The legendary coach Bill Walsh transformed the San Francisco 49ers and the game of football. His philosophy can make a difference in the Race to Zero Carbon.

chat Posted Aug 20, 2016 by Rezwan | Category : Coaches
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The Prime Directive

For Coach Walsh, “the prime directive was not victory.” The most important goal was cultural transformation via the “Standard of Performance”. The title of the book rises from this philosophy. If you get the culture of standards right, the “score takes care of itself.” But to get it right, everyone involved has to embrace the standard. Everyone. From the parking attendants to the star players.

“From the start, my prime directive, the fundamental goal, was the full and total implementation throughout the organization of the actions and attitudes of the Standard of Performance.”

“I had no grandiose plan or timetable for winning a championship, but rather a comprehensive standard and plan for installing a level of proficiency - competency - at which our production level would become higher in all areas, both on and off the field, than that of our opponents. Beyond that, I had faith that the score would take care of itself.”

During the early period, he began hiring personnel with four characteristics he valued most highly. These were “talent, character, functional intelligence, and an eagerness to adopt my way of doing things, my philosophy”.

Fortunately, it’s a great philosphy:

“My Standard of Performance - the values and beliefs within it - guided everything I did in my work at San Francisco and are defined as follows: [bullet points added]

  1. Exhibit a ferocious and intelligently applied work ethic directed at continual improvement;
  2. demonstrate respect for each person in the organization and the work he or she does;
  3. be deeply committed to learning and teaching, which means increasing my own expertise.
  4. be fair;
  5. demonstrate character;
  6. honor the direct connection between details and improvement and relentlessly seek the latter;
  7. show self-control, especially where it counts most - under pressure;
  8. demonstrate and prize loyalty;
  9. use positive language and have a positive attitude;
  10. take pride in my effort as an entity separate from the result of that effort;
  11. be willing to go the extra distance for the organization;
  12. deal appropriately with victory and defeat, adulation and humiliation (don’t get crazy with victory nor dysfunctional with loss);
  13. Promote internal communication that is both open and substantive (especially under stress);
  14. Seek poise in myself and those I lead;
  15. put the team’s welfare and priorities ahead of my own;
  16. maintain an ongoing level of concentration and focus that is abnormally high;
  17. Make sacrifice and commitment the organization’s trademark.

How would Bill Walsh Coach the Race to Zero Carbon?

Wow! How do we apply a “Standard of Performance” to the Race to Zero Carbon? Your thoughts welcome in the comments.

In the Race to Zero Carbon, as with Football, you know the score is important. In Football it’s how you determine who wins the game, and how you compare to other teams. In the race to Zero Carbon, getting to net zero is crucial for our survival.

But aside from knowing the parameter, the score can’t be your focus. You need to take the time to figure out the whole game, and work with the whole team, to the highest standard of excellence.

More: Bill Walsh inspired coaching tips via Jeff Janssen.

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