Wednesday Wisdom–Kickoff to Great Leadership

Good news, dear Wednesday Wisdom readers! Football season is just days away! And the preseason college football rankings are out (non-football fans please indulge me)! Of course, the “Number 1” team is little surprise—the University of Alabama is once again leading the pack. Alabama has been a dominant force in the SEC and nationally for years. And a lot of that success is attributed to the leadership abilities of the team’s head coach, Nick Saban. Saban has led the Crimson Tide since 2007, and is the only coach in college-football history to win back-to-back BCS National Championships. His sustained success seems nothing short of remarkable, and teams of all kinds would love to have just a little bit of that magic. In our good fortune, Saban shared a list of his leadership thoughts and philosophies with attendees of the 2016 Leadercast global conference. Below are his points of emphasis from his casually-structured talk, as recorded in my attendee notes. These notes are like little soundbites, but taken together seemed like timely Wednesday Wisdom material for all leaders and team members (hint: you’re both!).

Without further ado:

  • Mindset—live by the acronym “WIN” (What is Important Now). It helps cut through the noise
    and distraction and to focus on what needs done.
  • Process—defines what need to do.
  • Have pride in performance
  • Work ethic & discipline—do what you need to do
  • Discipline:
    • Something you know you are supposed to do, but you don’t want to do it–can
      you make yourself do it?
    • Something you know you shouldn’t do, but you want to do it–can you make
      yourself not do it?
  • Choices—what choices are you going to make to accomplish the vision that you have?
  • Keep focused on vision, not circumstances that you’re in
  • Failure—you have the right to fail, but you don’t have the right to fail for everyone else
  • Present—be where your feet are; what’s happening right now
  • Knowledge—learn, educate yourself
  • Teamwork—everyone needs to make commitment to the standard
  • Learn how to make it about “You” for each of your people—learn their goals, ask how their
    behavior is helping them to achieve their goals or is keeping them from their goals
  • Compassion—if you think you are being compassionate by letting someone be on the team
    who doesn’t need to be, you are only hurting everyone else
  • Expectation—if expectation is that there will be obstacles, you will have a better perspective
  • People have to be responsible for their own outcomes and opportunities–self determination
  • Define everyone’s job, define goals, standard, expectations–Everything defined
  • Has one sign in in the locker room—“Do Your Job”
  • Work ethic on consistent basis
  • Invest Time vs. Spend Time
    • Leadership—helping someone else for their benefit; have to care about other people
    • Sometimes presence is important
    • Say good job, thank you, appreciate you
      • With every “thank you” goes an I.O.U.–> Thank you, I owe you my very best
  • Lead better if you focus on one person at a time. Watch for “energy vampires”. Spend your
    time with people doing the right things.

    • Talk with three of your people each week

What common themes do you identify from Saban’s thoughts on leadership? As a leader, which of Saban’s tips would you consider trying with your team? As a team member, which of these ideas could help you be a better team player?