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The Leader's Playbook

The Leader's Playbook

Take a page - no, several pages - from this guide to transforming your team

The famous playbook of Vince Lombardi - the most renowned US gridiron coach of all time and a source of inspiration and wisdom for many corporate and political leaders in America - was based on one core idea: that a limited number of simple plays, coupled with intensive training on situational variations, could transform a team. Applied to the world of C-suite executives, Lombardi's playbook offers a unique window into the underpinnings of leadership.

A leadership playbook is executable, scalable, integrated and robust. A playbook allows you and your team to focus, interpret events and act even in very complex environments. Based on everything I have learned and experienced in leadership, here is my version. I hope you'll use this as a starting point to develop a playbook of your own.


Section I: Strategy

The first section defines where you want to go - what changes should occur and what you want to stay the same.

Page 1: Problem and Goal Definition Describe on one page the past, the present and the future states to be achieved, why these changes are important, and the key performance indicators that will tell you if they've been accomplished.

Page 2: Control and Timing There are always several different workable strategies to achieve a goal, and they are often heavily dependent on timing. If you're in a hurry and have competitors outflanking you, your strategic options differ tremendously from a situation where you are in control and have plenty of time. The secret to great timing is a combination of perspective and situational awareness.

Page 3: Credibility and Realism In leadership, the messenger is as important as the message. The realism of your point of view, the manner in which you present it, the language you use and your reputation as a leader all come together to support - or degrade - your credibility. I try to emulate the motto of Lord Browne, group chief executive of BP: humanity, humility and humour.

Page 4: Motivation and Belief People may not believe your message or believe only parts of it. Or they may believe your message, but not believe they can do it; or not believe it's the most important task; or not believe it must be done now. Generating true motivation and belief is one of the most challenging aspects of transformational leadership. But you need only a small group to start with - the core leadership team of your change effort.

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