Hall Of Fame NFL Head Coach's Philosophy of Leadership

Hall Of Fame NFL Head Coach's Philosophy of Leadership

Read Time: 4 minutes | 750 Words.

As a 3 time Super Bowl-winning head coach & 1 time NFL Head Coach of the Year, Bill Walsh proved to be a very effective leader throughout his Hall Of Fame career. He was hired by the 49ers after they had a 2-14 season. By his third year, Walsh led the San Francisco 49ers to their first Super Bowl Championship of all time.

Effective & successful leadership is one of the best life lessons learned from playing or coaching sports.


Coach Walsh explained his philosophy of leadership in his book titled The Score Takes Care of Itself.

These are 12 habits of a quality leader, as listed in his book.

Bill Walsh's Habits of Leadership

Be Yourself

Coach Walsh says that, basically, a leader can't replicate someone else's style.

Your style will work for you when you take advantage of your strengths and strive to overcome your weaknesses. You must be the best version of yourself that you can be.

Bill Walsh, The Score Takes Care of Itself

Be Committed to Excellence


This one is a common theme throughout the entire book on leadership. He references his "Standard of Performance" often & here he speaks on how he spent three decades developing it. You must be committed & focused on the goal of excellence before any other goals. Excellence in any aspect of life will quickly spread to other areas.

At all times, in all ways, your focus must be on doing things at the highest possible level.

Bill Walsh, The Score Takes Care of Itself

Be Positive

The message Bill Walsh portrays here is that leaders focus on positives. Build people up rather than tear them down. Teach rather than criticize. Instead of telling people what not to do, focus on what they should do. Walsh states that a leader should "Maintain an affirmative, constructive, positive environment".

Be Prepared

We've all heard the saying. Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. It's true, and it's part of being committed to excellence. You can't control the outcome of every situation, but you always control your preparation. Walsh notes that it's equally important to plan & prepare for unexpected events as it is to prepare for expected events. He's right.

Be Detail-Oriented

Being detail-oriented can help a leader be prepared & also reach excellence.

High Performance is achieved small step by small step through painstaking dedication to pertinent details.

Bill Walsh, The Score Takes Care of Itself

Be Organized

Organization goes hand in hand with being detail-oriented & being prepared. Coach Walsh summed it up perfectly, "Great organization is the trademark of a great organization". I'm not sure if that's his quote or if he was quoting somebody else, but it's an amazing quote.

Be Accountable

In the sports world, we hear this all the time when it comes to coaches. When a team wins, the players are praised. When a team loses, the coach is often held accountable. As a leader, you have to take these losses on the chin, be positive, & avoid excuses.

Be Near-Sighted and Far-Sighted

All efforts and plans should be considered not only in terms of short-run effect, but also in terms of how they impact the organization long term. This is very difficult.

Bill Wash, The Score Takes Care of Itself

Be Fair

A good leader makes it a habit to treat people right. You've heard stories about successful leaders treating their top employee & lowest level employees with the same respect. Earlier in the book, Walsh said "Regardless of the size of an employee's check or the requirements of his or her job, I made it clear that he or she was 100 percent a member of our team", in regards to the expectations within his Standard of Performance.

Be Firm

Bill Walsh only used one sentence to explain this one. He makes the point that a leader should stand on his principles & values.

Be Flexible


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Believe in Yourself

If you don't believe in yourself, why should anybody believe in you? Why should anybody trust your leadership?

Self-confidence is the key for good leadership.

If you follow all of the other steps, you should have no problem believing in yourself as a leader.

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