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on 4 November 2016
Whilst it is about American football there are plenty of analogies with business and leadership.
Interesting and thought provoking. Would say that it does repeat itself particularly in the second half of the book
Worth a read for any businesses leadership
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on 29 May 2017
Good book for management.
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on 16 May 2017
Easy to digest, key lessons, some now fairly established but at the time cutting edge. Really helpful at all levels of management. Plus some interesting 49er insights for fans.
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on 1 April 2017
A lot of insights on leadership and life from one of the top coaches in NFL in the pursuit of perfection
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on 2 February 2012
A very good book which gives great advice on how to treat people, trust your judgement and extract the most from your talent. Lots of stories are anecdotes from the 1980s when Bill Walsh resurrected the 49ers. His values are old fashioned (therefore I really appreciated and respected them) but are relevant to anybody who is in charge of a team or company today. The couple of negatives - the book was put together over several years and so many chapters contain reference to his first Super Bowl win which gets a touch repetitive as it seems the editing could have been a little tighter. And if you are under 30 years of age you may not quite appreciate the talents of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice and how they went were transformed from College average to NFL legends. Otherwise this is a really entertaining and inspiring read.
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Whenever a list of the NFL's greatest coaches is formulated, Bill Walsh's name is usually included with those of other Hall of Famers such as Paul Brown, George Hallas, Tom Landry, Vince Lombardi, Chuck Noll, and Don Shula. I was especially eager to read this book, written with Steve Jamison and his only surviving son, Craig, because I wanted to gain a much better understanding of Bill Walsh's leadership style and management preferences during an illustrious career as a head coach in the NFL: a record of 102-63-1 with the San Francisco 49ers, winning ten of his fourteen postseason games along with six division titles, three NFC Championship titles, and three Super Bowls. He was named the NFL's Coach of the Year in 1981 and 1984.

Especially in recent years, there have been many articles and books written about how to develop peak performers. (Some of the best observations and insights are provided by Erika Andersen in her book, Growing Great Employees.) The most highly-admired CEOs tend be those who were especially effective developing high-impact leaders among those in middle management. At GE, Jack Welch devoted at least 20% of his time to mentoring high-potential middle managers and his successor, Jeff Immelt, continues to do so. Given that, now consider the fact that a total of 24 head coaches in the NFL were once an assistant coach on his staff at one time, and many of them led teams to victory in the Super Bowl (e.g. Brian Billick, Jon Gruden, Mike Holmgren, George Seifert, Mike Shanahan). Some of Walsh's greatest skills were those of a teacher. Many who recalled their association with him after his death (from leukemia in 2007) made it a point to praise his intellect, energy, scope and depth of knowledge, enthusiasm, insatiable curiosity, and especially his passion to help others to understand what great success required and how to achieve it.

In the introductory essay, "A Leader's Book for Leaders," Craig Walsh identifies five "key" players in his father's life: Joe Montana (the first quarterback he drafted who led the 49ers to all of their Super Bowl victories), John McVay (vice president and director of the 49ers' operations while Walsh was head coach), Mike White (a long-time personal friend and a fellow assistant coach at U. Cal Berkeley), Bill McPherson (a defensive assistant coach while Walsh coached the 49ers), and Randy Cross ("a great offensive lineman [and a] member of the San Francisco 49ers for thirteen years including his first three, which were pre--Bill Walsh seasons"). All of them accepted an invitation to "contribute their analyses of the leadership philosophy of Bill Walsh and expand on the comprehensive lessons my father offers [in this book]...these five were asked and kindly accepted the invitation to more fully explain the `genius' of Bill Walsh." Their contributions are substantial. Nonetheless, this is still Bill Walsh's book.

In the Foreword, "His Standard of Performance," Montana praises Walsh's ability "to teach people how to think and play at a different and much higher, and, at times, perfect level." How? Three ways: sharing a tremendous knowledge of all aspects of the game, assembling a highly competent staff as well as coaches "who knew how to coach" and who complemented the intensive instruction that Walsh provided on and off the field, and finally, developing a hatred of mistakes. "He was extremely demanding without a lot of noise...great at making people great students" and "ran a pretty tight ship, but he knew when to let us. He didn't beat up players mentally of physically." On the contrary, he assembled teams whose players who had to be highly intelligent to understand the immensely complicated strategies and game plans for which Walsh was noted throughout his career. He may have been the most cerebral head coach in the league's history. That said, Craig Walsh also reveals that his father "Dad was an outsider; he wanted to be an insider. What he found along the way professionally, starting in his days as an assistant coach, was an unwillingness by others to `let him in.' He didn't have the pedigree -and athletic résumé from a big-name school or assistant coaching credentials from a big college program." Nonetheless, what he accomplished as a coach was eventually considered sufficient for election to the NFL Hall of Fame.

I was fascinated to learn that Twelve O'clock High was one of Walsh's favorite films and that he identified with the lead character, General Frank Savage (portrayed brilliantly by Gregory Peck) who commanded the 918th Bomber group during World War II. "My father loved that movie because it told the story of what he did in football, and what happened to him as a result, in the context of something he loved - the military."

The account of Walsh's career in enlightening. There are important business lessons to be learned from his leadership and management during periods of failure as well as success. This is what his son means when referring to "his ferocious competitive instinct, and his singular brilliance as a strategist, organizer, and team builder," who "produced historic results." However, what I found riveting is the multi-dimensional portrait of a profoundly human Bill Walsh that merges in the book, an "outsider" obsessed with "proving them all wrong." He did that and, with what he so generously shares in this book, can continue to help others learn "how to be as great as they can be."
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on 8 January 2013
This book kept cropping up in my management reading. It shows that by building a winning culture you can achieve results and that the little things matter. I enjoyed it and unlike many books, this is from a manager who has achieved, not just talked about achieving!
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on 21 October 2015
Walsh's Standard of Performance is packaged here for business readers, but I am guessing not too many of them could find the sort of use for his tactics as he did. The trouble is, for truly innovative leaders, there is only one Elvis. Copying a style as distinctive as Walsh's may not turn out to be the most effective thing you might do as you aren't him (just ask Stuart Lancaster, who clearly read this book, learned the words but couldn't carry the tune). This doesn't mean there are no insights, and he is unsparing of himself in terms of both the mistakes he made and the price he paid for being who he was and acting as he saw fit.
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on 1 June 2015
A fantastic read. As someone who has never been able to take part in sport physically due to multiple disabilities, I enjoy reading intelligently written books on sports management, motivation and team building. This is one of the best I've read. In reading these books I'm doing so because I enjoy them and I often find a little something that helps me personally. Like Bill I have my own 'Standard of Performance' but for me that later parts of the book about his final years at the Niners are currently more poignant. Whatever your reason to read this book whether business-led, sports-led or just personal, read it.
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on 22 May 2013
The guy was a genius, he did not get on with everyone, but had a vision and set himself goals at every level then delivered. It must be tough at the top of your game and people slagging off your way of winning. but he didn't listen to the detractors and just got on with the job of winning superbowls.
A good read for anyone but a great read for those who have teams both sports and commercial and need some energy and ideas!
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