5 Things Needed To Win

For years, I’ve appreciated a talk given by famed football coach, Vince Lombardi.  His encouraging words begin with, “Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”

For success to be a habit, successful habits must be developed.  Here are five (5) basic elements:

  1. Understand The Game.

Too many times, we complicate the game.  It’s usually simple . . . there’s the goal, here’s the ball, move the ball down the field and push it across the goal.  Too often, basics are set aside for better ideas . . . and, there are a plethora of better ideas.  In their book The 4 Disciplines of Execution, McChesney, Covey and Huling write, ”There will always be more good ideas than there is capacity to execute.”

Having a valued understanding of the game is both the destination and the journey . . . it’s where you end up and how your got there.  Simon Sinek says, “One of the best paradoxes of leadership is a leader’s need to be both stubborn and open-minded. A leader must insist on sticking to the vision and stay on course to the destination. But he must be open-minded during the process.”

  1. Have A Working and Winning Team.

Most have read Stephen Covey’s concept of having the right people on the right bus . . . and the right people in the right seat.  Andy Stanley writes, “Your greatest contribution may not be something you do but someone you raise.”

All team members have value . . . deserve respect . . . and need investing in.  Cheryl Bachelder, in Dare To Serve writes, “Stewarding the future leaders of the world is a significant responsibility.”

Every team leader will encounter team members with some of the following characteristics.

  • Ignorance – They don’t know what to do . . . tell them. The job requirements may be unclear.  Simple and specific direction can be the cure.
  • Inability – They don’t have the skills to do it . . . train them. Every task requires a bit of talent and a bit of teaching.  Show your team how to do their job.  In many fields, it’s called “coaching”.
  • Inattentive – They don’t care about details . . . test them. Accountability creates attention to detail.  Inspect what you expect.
  • Insecurity – They don’t have the courage to do it . . . trust them. Failures in the past can create faint-heartedness in the present.  If they can do the job, trust them to do it.  If they make mistakes, make them learning moments.
  • Indifferent – They don’t have passion . . . touch them. Many people never have a passion because their hearts have never been touched with the value of their contribution.  Make it more than a job.  Passion always drives performance.
  • Incompatible – They don’t have job fit or team fit . . . transfer them. The proper fit sets up a powerful future.
  • Insubordinate – They don’t have the character to do it . . . terminate them. Character is critical.  With tenderness, tact and truthfulness . . . give them the opportunity to find another place.


  • Integral – They fit, they got it, they contribute . . . turn them loose.
  1. Practice Hard.

Here is a simple thought that has been seared into my heart . . . you play like you practice.  If you give it all in preparation, you’ll get it all in the performance.  Intentional strategies lead to indomitable successes.

  1. Always Know The Score

Countless games have been lost in the last seconds because someone wasn’t paying attention to the score.  And, some of the greatest last second wins take place when the time clock is managed, and every tick is utilized.

Keeping score matters.  Keeping score tells you if you’re winning (reaching your objectives) or losing (relinquishing your objectives).   McChesney, Covey and Huling write, “If the game doesn’t really matter, why should your team care?  That is why real accountability inspires the team to engage at the highest level of play.”  They continue, “People play differently when they know the score.”

Are you winning or losing?  Are you moving the ball downfield?  Are you playing to win or playing “not to lose”?

  1. Critique Every Loss and Celebrate Every Win

Analyzing and appreciating needs to be a part of every project.  Jocko Willink and Leif Babin write, “Every leader and every team at some point or time will fail and must confront that failure.” (Extreme Ownership:  How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win) Critiquing does mean being critical.  Critiquing is examining, evaluating, equating and explaining.  It’s always looking to see why the clouds are dark and where the silver lining lies.  Sometimes we need to think differently, dynamically and decisively.  Albert Einstein said, “Problems cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that created them.”

When you successfully complete a major project, celebrate the monumental win.  A “victory dance” in the end zone tells your fans that you won . . . and tells your competitors to watch out.

Cheryl Bachelder, for CEO of Popeye’s Chicken sums it up, “Every leadership position comes with some degree of power. The question is, how will a leader use the power they have been given?”

Every team leader takes the human talent they have been given and accomplishes something that no single could ever do.  In the words of Helen Keller, “Alone we can do little; together we can do much.”

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