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