When Bill Walsh joined the San Francisco 49ers, they were the worst team in football.  Within three years, they were Super Bowl Champions. The team became a dynasty, winning three Super Bowls during his tenure.  Walsh, known as one of the greatest coaches of all time, wrote about his philosophy of leadership in the book “The Score Takes Care of Itself”.   Here are 16 quotes that you can apply to your own leadership practice:
  1. “The ability to help the people around me self-actualize their goals underlines the single aspect of my abilities and the label that I value most – teacher.”
  2. “How do you know if you’re doing the job? If you’re up at 3 am talking into a tape recorder and writing notes on paper, have a knot in your stomach, rash on your skin, losing sleep and losing touch with wife and kids, have no appetite or sense of humor and feel everything might turn out wrong, you’re probably doing the job.”
  3. “I directed our focus less to the prize of victory than to the process of improving – obsessing, perhaps, about the quality of our execution and the content of our thinking; that is, our actions and attitude.  I knew if I did that, winning would take care of itself.”
  4. “Winners act like winners before they’re winners…The culture precedes positive results.  It doesn’t get tacked on as an afterthought on your way to the victory stand. Champions behave like champions before they’re champions; they have a winning standard of performance before they’re winners.”
  5. “Success doesn’t care which road you take to get to its doorstep.”
  6. “Few things offer greater return on less investment than praise – offering credit to someone in your organization who has stepped up and done the job.”
  7. “A defining characteristic of a good leader is the conviction that he or she can make a positive difference – can prevail even when the odds are stacked against him or her.  A successful leader is not easily swayed from this self-belief. But it happens.”
  8. “Be clear in your own mind as to what you stand for. And then stand up for it.”
  9. “For members of your team, you determine what their inner voice says.  The leader, at least a good one, teaches the team how to talk to themselves.  An effective leader has a profound influence on what that inner voice will say.”
  10. “Discipline must be a habit so ingrained that it is stronger than the excitement of battle or the fear of death.”
  11. “If you’re growing a garden, you need to pull out the weeds, but flowers will die if all you do is pick weeds.  They need sunshine and water. People are the same.”
  12. “There are winners, and there are people who would like to be winners but just don’t know how to do it.  Intelligent and talented people who are motivated can learn how to become winners if they have someone who will teach them.”
  13. “Money talks.  Treating people right talks louder.”
  14. “Mastery requires endless remastery.  In fact, I don’t believe there is ever true mastery.  It is a process, not a destination. That’s what few winners realize and explains to some degree why repeating is so difficult.  Having triumphed, winners come to believe that the process of mastery is concluded and that they are its proud new owners.”
  15. “The four most powerful words are: I believe in you.”
  16. “His goal in life was to convince us that we could be great.  And he did; and we were. That’s why he was such a great leader.” – Joe Montana, on what makes Bill Walsh a great leader
What are your favorite leadership quotes?  Let me know in the comments.

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