I love reading about leadership.  I especially enjoy gleaning insights from Apex Leaders, actual practitioners who are leading at the highest levels possible and then written about their experiences.  The following are the Top 10 leadership books I have ever read in alphabetical order by author.

  1. The Bible (this is number one in any order.  Simply the greatest leadership book ever written)
  2. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull (the best book on creativity I’ve ever read and one of the Top 10 on leadership in general)
  3. Great By Choice by Jim Collins (Depending on the day and the issue I’m dealing with, you could convince me his other books Built To Last and How The Mighty Fall are better).
  4. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (The 10,000 Hour Rule may be the best chapter I’ve read from books 2-9)
  5. Linchpin by Seth Godin (If you want to make yourself indispensable read this book)
  6. Tribes by Seth Godin (If you want to attract as large a following as possible – and what leader doesn’t – read this book)
  7. Leadership Axioms by Bill Hybels (The best church leadership book I’ve ever read when concerning practical day-to-day things pastors face.)
  8. Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels (This book captures a number of Bill’s best conference messages over about a five year period)
  9. The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership by John Maxwell (the ultimate summary of all leadership teachings)
  10. Deep And Wide by Andy Stanley.  The first 60 pages detailing Andy’s relationship with father Dr. Charles Stanley are absolutely riveting.

Well, it is time to add another book to this list.  I have just finished The Score Takes Care Of Itself: My Philosophy Of Leadership by Bill Walsh.  It is INCREDIBLE!!!

Bill Walsh was the head coach and general manager of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers during the team’s golden era of the 80’s.  Under his leadership, the team won three Super Bowls and then two more shortly after his departure.

What makes this book so compelling is Coach Walsh gives you all his innovative thinking and management techniques which resulted in what modern-day football offense looks like.  He approached football like a professor.  But he also openly discusses the price leaders must pay to achieve superior results – anxiety, burn out, increased and unrealistic expectations from management, and the joyless and thankless reality of achieving expected superior results.  Winning becomes merely a relief rather than a joy.

The following are 25 leadership quotes and lessons from The Score Takes Care Of Itself: My Philosophy Of Leadership. You can pick up your copy by clicking HERE or on the image above.  All comments are from Coach Walsh unless otherwise noted.

  1.  “Bill raised everybody’s standard, what we defined as acceptable.  Perfection was his acceptable norm.” – Joe Montana
  2. “I’ve observed that if individuals who prevail in highly competitive environments have one thing in common besides success, it is failure – and their ability to overcome it.  ‘Crash and burn’ is part of it; so are recovery and reward.”
  3. “MY FIVE DONT’S: Don’t ask, ‘Why me?’.  Don’t expect sympathy.  Don’t bellyache.  Don’t keep accepting condolences.  Don’t blame others.”
  4. “Good talent with bad attitude equals bad talent.”
  5. “Your philosophy is the single most important navigational point on your leadership compass.”
  6. “Practice relentlessly until your execution at the highest level is automatic – routine ‘perfection'”.
  7. “I began hiring personnel with four characteristics I value most highly: talent, character, functional intelligence (beyond basic intelligence, the ability to think on your feet, quickly and spontaneously), and an eagerness to adopt my way of doing things, my philosophy.”
  8. “That is the measure, in my opinion, of any great organization…willingness to sacrifice for the team, to go the extra mile, the extra five or fifty miles.  And it starts with the leader and your leadership staff.”
  9. “Champions behave like champions before they’re champions; they have a winning standard of performance before they are winners.”
  10. “Great players and great companies don’t suddenly start hunching up, grimacing, and trying to ‘hit the ball harder’ at a critical point.  Rather, they’re in a mode, a zone in which they’re performing, and depending on their ‘game,’ which they’ve mastered over many months and years of intelligently directed hard work.”
  11. “Making lemonade when you’re given lemons is leadership; making lemonade when you don’t have any lemons is great leadership.”
  12. “It (the creation of the West Coast Offense) was born of necessity, bred of innovation and creativity applied to existing – and so-called limited – assets…Desperation drove me to creativity.”
  13. “For my effort in coming up with a successful new way of doing things, I received the disparagement of many in the NFL, especially old-timers.”
  14. “Success doesn’t care which road you take to get to its doorstep.”
  15. “Of course you need talent, but talent is not the only factor.  And at the upper levels of competition, talent becomes much more evenly distributed.”
  16. “Two leaders – coaches – looking at the same information will not see the same thing.  The one who’s a more skill analyst, who digs deeper and wider, will benefit more.”
  17. “Others follow you based on the quality of your actions rather than the magnitude of your declaration.”
  18. “Once the decision was made, the discussion was over.  My ultimate job, and yours, is not to give an opinion.  Everybody’s got an opinion.  Leaders are paid to make a decision.  The difference between offering an opinion and making a decision is the difference between working for the leader and being the leader.”
  19. “No leader can control the outcome of the contest or competition, but you can control how you prepare for it.”
  20. “Great organization is the trademark of a great organization.”
  21. “Concentrate on what will produce results rather than on the results, the process rather than the prize.”
  22. “A good leader is always learning.  The great leaders start learning young and continue until their last breath.”
  23. “A pretty package can’t sell a poor product.  Results – in my profession, winning football games – are the ultimate promotional tool…The world’s best promotional tool is a good product.”
  24. “Even winning a Super Bowl couldn’t remove the knowledge that failure was in the future, because nobody wins them all the time…Eddie (owner DeBartolo, Jr) did not come from a football background, so he left me totally alone, free to fail or succeed with interference.  This changed when I achieved results…Eddie kept raising the bar.  Soon enough, if his team didn’t win that year’s Super Bowl, he was distraught, enraged.  Just getting to the play-offs each year was insufficient; if fact, it drove him crazy – it was unacceptable to him…he was beginning his heavy-handed approach to micro-management…then he began questioning my decisions, occasionally belittling them, wondering out load to anyone who cared to listen whether there wasn’t a better way than what I did – whether he, perhaps, knew more about it than I did…he called me into my office for a ranting critique of the game and my coaching of it.  The team knew what was going on because they could see and hear it; it was embarrassing – more than that, humiliating.”
  25. “It was unpleasant to know that doing a good job in the NFL wasn’t much different from doing a bad job.  Both will get you fired; the latter just gets fired sooner…Then you learn that even a fantastic job is inadequate.  The norm becomes the impossible, and when you don’t achieve the impossible, your head’s on the chopping block.  Good and bad are about the same in the NFL, perhaps in corporate America too.  You’re gone if good is the best you can do.  Good just buys you time; great buys you a little more time.  And then you’re gone.”
  26. ***BONUS*** “Your effort in the beginning is part of a continuum of effort…Today’s effort becomes tomorrow’s result.  The quality of those efforts becomes the quality of your work.  One day is connected to the following day and the following month to the succeeding years.”

Do you see what I mean about this being such a great leadership book.  Pick up your copy of The Score Takes Care Of Itself: My Philosophy Of Leadership by clicking HERE.


Click HERE or on the image to the left and as a free gift for subscribing to this site, you can receive my new Ebook 1269 Leadership Quotes: Timeless Truths From 2016’s Top Christian Leadership Conferences.  Featured are the Johnny Hunt Mens Conference, ReThink Leadership, Orange and Leadercast Conferences among others.  If applied, these insights will make you an exponentially better leader.  Enjoy!!!

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