Why Vince Lombardi The Coach Failed As A Man – Leadership

vince lombardi


Pull up your chair. I’m going to tell you what you aren’t doing. Vince Lombardi the coach and the man exemplifies leaders in every sphere.

Integrity in quiet moments is the hallmark of a leader.

We are interesting people. Contradictory in the things that matter most for the sake of people and things that most certainly really do not matter at all. Leadership is a trite word. it’s real meaning is lost somewhere between charismatic and dazzling. The opulent splendor of the shiny object lost in the splendor of those whose touch mattered most.

I have become inoculated by leadership speakers. I have never known anyone in 26 years of consulting to actually apply the concepts. That is disheartening.

Here I am completing the last pages of my leadership book wondering why one more would be needed with more than 145,000 currently on Amazon. Then I happened upon a photo of Vince Lombardi with a headline from a well known leadership expert touting Lombardi a superb leader. Comments verified he was a “man for all seasons.”

One man proclaimed, his motto “God, Family and the Green Bay Packers” humble and emblematic of virtues we should all aspire to.

Sounded melodramatic. The Headline of a movie. On a side note a read of a Green Bay Packer all star player who having suffered concussions lived on the streets in his later years. While playing for the Packers being the man he was he Super Glued his cracked feet together. I couldn’t help but wonder was it worth it. Fame as with power always fade. The crowd goes home. The crowd ages and another thing surfaces to capture their attention.

Back to Lombardi. He was a great football coach but an inept man. Perhaps you will emit, “None of us are perfect.” When one read Lombardi’s lofty leadership quotes one would expect a man who loved his family not as much as his team ….. but more.

His son said he was seldom home. There were times he mistakenly went to his neighbor’s home unable to locate his own. His wife became an alcoholic because he deserted family for the roar of the crowd. Hs quotes although lofty inspiration is more for the public persona than man who loved his family. How sad we deem this as leadership. How very sad indeed.

How in the world could this be deemed leadership? I can’t possibly see it. The public persona attempting to dissuade the private persona. All those years wasted for people who didn’t matter. While his most valued asset family sat in the wings similar to a perpetually waiting bride. I’m disappointed Lombardi is proclaimed a great leader when he was only a great football coach.

Leadership is such a ubiquitous word. Values and morality have also become so commonplace we take them for granted. As though they are short cuts. Over the years I’ve seen men and women in positions of obvious power not only forget but neglect family for the corner office that will most assuredly sooner than later to another.

Stephen Covey offered this advice to a man:

“My wife and I just don’t have the same feelings for each other we used to have. I guess I just don’t love her anymore and she doesn’t love me. What can i do?”
“The feeling isn’t there anymore?” I asked.
“That’s right,” he reaffirmed. “And we have three children we’re really concerned about. What do you suggest?”
“love her,” I replied.
“I told you, the feeling just isn’t there anymore.”
“Love her.”
“You don’t understand. the feeling of love just isn’t there.”
“Then love her. If the feeling isn’t there, that’s a good reason to love her.”
“But how do you love when you don’t love?”
“My friend , love is a verb. Love – the feeling – is a fruit of love, the verb. So love her. Serve her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?”

Fame is indeed fleeting. There is no avoiding it.

Every Super Bowl game the winning team receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy for excellence.

Think about it.

The head of Gallup corporation said this about leadership. When you attend the next conference, lead a meeting or read a book think about hi words.

Gallup President on leadership

I am going to diverge from the usual terminology of leadership: If it can be said of you at your last days that you gave your family more of yourself and time than those at the office then I say you were a leader.

There are times I read and hear so much about leadership that I want to literally aspirate. Behind closed doors few actually practice it.

“Nobody really care that they don’t work”

When I worked at Franklin v I can recall Stephen stating he and his wife never spent more than a day or two at best away from each other.” Think about that.

A friend remarked to me recently that her husband spent ten years working away from family only to visit of you will perhaps one or two weekends a month. Of those four monthly days two or three were spent due to his exhaustion. I asked how she felt about it expecting sheer  disregard for his actions. She replied in terms of as the bible says, ‘Things that rust and decay.”

“He was a good provider. I didn’t want for anything.”  You can imagine after 10 years what invariably developed between the two. He had a series of affairs and she became satisfied with things instead of him.

My heart sunk. Is that leadership? Hewlett Packard’s CEO was forced from office for submitting a fraudulent expense slip involving a salacious trip with his female associate. Had this been a line employee he or she would have been terminated immediately.

What advice do I have for you. As Kevin Cashman said: It is better to be than to do. For real change occurs from the inside out.

To paraphrase Zig Ziglar, Seeing how we are all going to be dead longer than we are alive here it makes sense to focus on things that matter most.

Leaders have more to cocontendith than ever before. Of cpcourset is all relative isn’t it? Here is my suggestion for a rule of thumb.

If you would not tolerate a behavior in your employees or in your son or daughter it would be wise to avoid it. Self mastery isn’t a sacrifice.

For one to be a better man at work than home is deception of the highest order. Jim Woods


Hire Jim Woods, speakers, leadership, consultant, hr, innovationJim is president of InnoThink Group and Leadership Matters.  He is a leader in workplace learning, productivity, performance, and leadership training solutions. For over 25 years, we have helped companies improve their performance, productivity, and bottom-line results. You can reach Jim for speaking and consulting at 719-306-5264.

Contact us See a partial list of Jim’s clients. Click here to Hire Jim Woods to Speak  | Follow us: Facebook | Follow us: Twitter | Skype ID – jim.woods79


Jim Woods is president of The Jim Woods Group. A management consulting firm. Go here to see his work www.jimwoodsgroup.com. He advises and speaks to organizations large and small on how to increase top line growth in times of uncertainty and complexity. Some of his speaking and consulting clients include: U.S. Army, MITRE Corporation, Pitney Bowes, Whirlpool, and 3M. See more at his website www.jimwoodsgroup.com.

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Posted in Leadership, Leadership Mastery

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