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Tuesday, October 30, 2012


For me, the starting point for everything -- before strategy, tactics, theories, managing, organizing, philosophy, methodology, talent, or experience -- is the work ethic.  Without one of significant magnitude you're dead in the water, finished.

Among other things, I knew the example I set as head coach would be what others in the organization would recognize as the standard they needed to match (at least most of them would recognize it).  If there is such a thing as a trickle-down effect, that's it.  Your staff sees your devotion to work, their people see them, and on through the the organization.

Obviously, it's not enough for you alone to work hard; there must be a similar organizational work ethic for anything of significance to occur.  You -- the one in charge -- are the reference point for what that means.

What does total effort and 100 percent commitment and sacrifice look like?  The leader -- head coach in my case -- is the one who answers that question by example for the entire team; you demonstrate in your behavior what it looks like.  Just talking about it, exhorting those in your organization to "give it all you've got" is close to meaningless.  They've got to see it to know it.  Same thing with a voracious appetite for work.  Most people don't have it;  many people can achieve it; one person is charged with setting the standard and demonstrating what it means: you.

During my years as head coach both at Stanford University and with the San Francisco 49ers, I believe it is safe to say there was no single individual in the organization -- player, assistant coach, trainer, staff member, groundskeeper, or anyone else -- who could accurately say he or she outworked me.  Not one.  I can state that with no fear of contradiction.  Some worked as hard -- nobody worked harder.

I never asked anyone to do more than I was willing to do, nor what I wasn't willing to do.  Nobody could ever -- not once -- point at me and say "Walsh sits on his ass in his office all day while we do the work."  When that sentiment spreads through an organization, you have signaled that "sitting on your ass all day" is an accepted standard of performance.

From "The Score Takes Care of Itself" by Bill Walsh, Steve Jamison and Craig Walsh

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