Saturday, May 30, 2020

Legacy by James Kerr

Legacy by James Kerr is a solid book subtitled What the All Black Can Teach Us About the Business of Life. Kerr covers the importance of culture creation and leadership, inspired mainly by the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team, and the chapters and some of the ideas from them are noted below...

1. Character (Sweep the Sheds): Never be too big to do the small things that need to be done as successful leaders balance pride with humility.

2. Adapt (Go for the Gap): When you're on top of your game, change your game. Organizational decline is inevitable unless leaders prepare for change, and organizational leaders should work to create an adaptive culture.

3. Purpose (Play With Purpose): Leaders connect personal meaning to a higher purpose to create belief and a sense of direction. It's about people being able to connect their values and beliefs with those of the organization.

4. Responsibility (Be a leader, Not a Follower): Leaders create leaders by passing on to others responsibility and ownership, utilizing accountability and trust. Quoted from the chapter was Tom Peters with "leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders."

5. Learn (Create a Learning Environment): Excellence is a process of evolution, cumulative learning, and incremental improvement. If you create a learning environment, you set up the structure to realize marginal improvements, and those marginal improvements add up quickly to success.

6. Whãnau (No Dickheads): Do things for the good of the team, and one selfish mindset will infect a collective culture. Everyone must move forward in the same direction, and the members of the team must all be people on board with this concept.

7. Expectations (Aim For the Highest Cloud): Successful leaders have high internal benchmarks, they set their expectations at a lofty level and then try to exceed them. Quoted in this chapter is Ira Glass, host of This American Life, with "great stories happen to those who tell them."

8. Preparation (Train to Win, Practice Under Pressure): Training with intensity conditions the brain and body to perform under pressure, to let peak performance become automatic. Success comes from putting in the reps.

9. Pressure (Keep a Blue Head, Control Your Attention): A blue head is loose, expressive, and in the moment. Words or mantras can be used as anchors to reach the right state. Pilots use: aviate, navigate, communicate to remind themselves what order to do things in. First focus on flying the plane, then fly the plane in the right direction, then tell people where you're flying the plane.

10. Authenticity (Know Thyself, Keep It Real): Act the same in public as in private. The best leaders remain true to their deepest values, lead their lives, and others follow. High-performing teams promote a culture of honesty, authenticity, and safe conflict. If everyone on a team does exactly what they say they will do, clarity, certainty, productivity, and momentum are the results.

11. Sacrifice (Champions Do Extra): When we give our time to something, we're giving our lives to it, we should make it worthwhile.

12. Language (Invent Your Own language, Sing Your World Into Existence): Leaders are storytellers, and all great organizations are born from a compelling story. This central organizing thought helps people understand what they stand for and why.

13. Ritual (Ritualize to Actualize, Create a Culture): Rituals drive home culture, they reflect, remind, reinforce, and reignite the central story.

14. Whakapapa (Be a Good Ancestor, Plant Trees You'll Never See): Leave things in a better place than before you were there. The way we lead our own life is what makes us a leader.

15. Legacy: Write your legacy, this is your time.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Gridiron Genius by Michael Lombardi

Gridiron Genius by Michael Lombardi is an insightful book from the former NFL GM who started in 1984 as a scouting assistant for the San Francisco 49ers, with one of his primary duties to be Bill Walsh's driver.

The book is subtitled A Master Class in Building Teams and Winning at the Highest Level and Lombardi notes that he wrote it to go over football strategy and tactics, but even more so philosophy and theory that can be applied outside of the game. He covers that a successful coach a good leader, and there's interesting content on what he learned about leadership from Walsh as well as Bill Belichick. From the Patriots' coach, Lombardi notes the principles of always looking forward, especially after a decision made, combating complacency, preparation, and attention to detail.

Lombardi wrote how he learned from Walsh the importance of culture and that Walsh introduced him to the writing of management gurus Warren Bennis and Tom Peters. Also noted are Walsh's book The Score Takes Care of Itself, and the former 49ers coach's "Standard of Performance" leadership maxims:

1. Exhibit a ferocious and intelligently applied work ethic directed at continual improvement.
2. Demonstrate respect for each person in the organization.
3. Be deeply committed to learning and teaching.
4. Be fair.
5. Demonstrate character.
6. Honor the direct connection between details and improvement; relentlessly seek the latter.
7. Show self-control, especially 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.
13. Promote internal communication that is both open and substantive.
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.

It's a good book and Lombardi closes with the principles he's learned and feels most important in any field:

Culture comes first
Press every edge all the time, because any edge may matter anytime
Systems over stars
Leadership in a long-term proposition
You're never done getting better