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Monday, September 9, 2013

Who was that Lombardi guy?

A long post in the Leadership series

A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be. Rosalynn Carter
 You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do. Eleanor Roosevelt

Vince Lombardi is known for leading a professional football team from mediocrity into championship. This would seem to be a matter of inspiring and teaching sports professionals to play a game well – an example of low-level leadership.

However, he was also successful at Board-of-Director level leadership in consciously bringing the team into prominence and dominance and willfully leading the Green Bay Packers into being a very-successful franchise.

One analysis of his leadership distills issues from both his low- and his high-level leadership into “It is discipline that will win the day.  A fear of failure quickly becomes a fear to try.”1

Strategic leadership

A term paper at the Army War College analyzed his strategic leadership including the statements: 2

MacArthur told Lombardi, football is simply warfare played on a different field. . .

"Grounded with a solid foundation built upon the firm embrace of his family, his Catholic faith, and his education by the Jesuits at Fordham University, Lombardi learned lessons that carried him throughout the rest of his life and enabled him to effectively transform not only the Green Bay Packers but the entire NFL from a fledgling league to a position of prominence." And, a biographer said:

“Indeed, Lombardi led by example and emphasized discipline, fearlessness, confidence, vision and direction, practicality, responsibility, honesty, commitment, power, and integrity; also, he always had faith in himself and his players and is revered for his wisdom by football historians and fans alike.”

He was also hated by a lot of opponents, a few players, some fans, and sometimes stockholders and owners as well. Other than the opponents, all of them respected, feared, and worked hard for him nevertheless.

And locally

Costa Mesa’s Mayor Jim Righeimer attended a Jesuit academy that emphasized service to others as being the meaning of life. He has founded and has helped direct more charitable activities than most of us could even name. It’s not publicized; it’s just what he does. He looks at his service, first on the planning commission and then on the City Council as service to others.3

The best leader will not only have innate leadership skills, but also have the capability to manage and operate on a day to day basis. It is this rare breed, this rare few, who have that undefinable extra trait that leads the way in their respective fields. (Ibid Book)

“The trinity of his (Lombardi’s) own life was "God, family and the Green Bay Packers." For Righeimer, God, family, and Costa Mesa seems appropriate. "The bottom line is we're a great city for the 21st century," Righeimer said. "This city is a true masterpiece."4

Opponents, informed and otherwise

Some intelligent and well prepared folks disagree with Righeimer, at least about some issues, but they respect his discipline, commitment and integrity. He devotes many, many hours to City matters, and then spends many more visiting with citizens to hear their concerns and to explain the City’s vision and direction – and to solve the problems and make the citizens’ lives a little better.

The Mayor has his chronic critics, of course, as did Lombardi. But his most vocal critics are uninformed haters – they think that whatever he’s doing is “badbecause he’s doing it. For example, a local blogger has been critical of Righeimer since before 2008, using name-calling, insider snide remarks, and innuendo to attack him.5 Most of Righeimer’s detractors are the blogger’s oblivious acolytes.6

Can't rule out IDK-x or IDx (Definitions)

The blogger supports his leadership expertise with a statement; “I do know more than a little bit about leadership, having made a very nice living identifying and recruiting leaders in industry for more than three decades.“7 However, we have found no corroboration of his success in identifying and recruiting leaders.

So, both Lombardi and Righeimer were reared Catholic, held (and hold) strong values of service and discipline, and both have used strategic leadership to turn faltering organizations into more-efficient and more effective organizations. Both love their organizations. And both have earned enmity as they powered the changes leading to success.

He'd say, "Thumbs up, Jim"

Good leadersLombardi and Righeimer – have paid off for Costa Mesa and for the Green Bay Packers. We think that Lombardi, based upon the Mayor’s compassion, determination, and accomplishments, would give him a hearty “thumbs up” for leadership

He'd probably be unimpressed with the quality of the Mayor’s opposition, though.

Coming in the "Local Leadership" series; Would Walch Approve?

(1) (Book): Vince Lombardi’s Leadership and the Path to Wisdom

(2) A US Army War College paper; the USAWC is a graduate-level course for selected military officers and civilians identified as future high-level (general officer, CEO) leaders.(At

(3) (Speech video

(4) Newspaper article, State of the City. (Pilot Article)

(5) Letter: Libelous lies. (Open Letter)

(6) Newspaper commentary.  (Comments)

 (7) A blog post that speaks for itself: read the comments. (BC Post)

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