“I am the leader”

Top of our reading list at Sport and Beyond over the Christmas period included the book commonly referred to as Stuart Lancaster’s ‘bible’.  Like any great coach and leader, the England Rugby head coach will have absorbed lessons, principles and pieces of advice from many different sources, but we can see why he likes Bill Walsh’s book (The Score Takes Care of Itself) so much.  And as Bill Walsh goes on to say, declaring “I am the leader” has no value unless you also have the command skills necessary to be a leader. 

So what were Bill Walsh’s guiding principles? They focus on the role of teacher, and his ‘standard of performance’. 

  • “Teaching defines your leadership”
  • “Successful people discover what they are good at while successful leaders discover what other people are good at.”

The first quote belongs to Bill, the second one has pride of place on our ‘thinking wall’ at Sport and Beyond. 

Bill Walsh felt that his primary job as a leader was to recognise ability in a person and then teach that individual how to reach his or her potential in ways that helped the team.

We would add in a first step – recognise your own abilities and working strengths, and then work to discover, recognise, develop and teach those around you


How did Stuart Lancaster start his career? As a teacher…..

Bound up with this guiding belief about teaching, Bill Walsh’s book details his ‘Standard of Performance’. This refers to the environment of excellence that guided everything he did in his work at San Francisco. What does he mean? What sort of things is he talking about? Well, they include:

  • exhibiting and insisting on a work ethic directed at continual improvement;
  • respecting each person in the organisation and the work they do;
  • being committed to learning and teaching;
  • demonstrating character;
  • making the connection between details and improvement and relentlessly seeking the latter;
  • showing self-control;
  • Demonstrating loyalty; and
  • Making sacrifice and commitment the organisation’s trademark.

You can see how Stuart Lancaster has built on this philosophy with many of the things he has put in place since he took over as head coach. 

Bill Walsh goes on to say that these are also the basic characteristics of attitude and action that he tried to put into the organisation’s DNA….ringing any bells? Anyone thinking ‘FA’, and the new England DNA Blueprint??

Our next blog will take a look at lessons from the All Blacks, via the book Legacy by James Kerr.