Leadership: The Will to Prepare to Win

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One of my favorite quotes is attributed to legendary Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

“It’s not the will to win that matters. Everybody’s got that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”

We like to write about leadership as something grand and heroic. Sometimes it is. More often, though, great leadership is grounded in the hard work of preparation.

Great Leaders Prepare Themselves

When it comes to whether leaders are born or made, I know the truth. Leaders are sometimes born, but they’re always made. No matter what kind of genetic endowment you show up with, no matter how effective your education or experience, great leadership is a lifelong learning process.

That’s why great leaders seek out growth opportunities. That’s why they seek out evaluations of their performance and behavior and why they take the time to reflect and figure out how to do things better next time.

Great leaders read because reading gives them insight beyond their own experience. They’re intentional readers. Great leaders take notes, review material, and figure out how to use it.

Great Leaders Prepare Other Leaders

Great leaders help other leaders do better. They coach, mentor, and challenge the people around them to do better. Then, they help them meet that challenge.

Great Leaders Prepare Teams to Win

It’s not enough to prepare the individual members of your team. Great leaders know that you must prepare the team to succeed as a unit. That means paying attention to little things, like how much people are speaking in meetings and being attuned to any internal conflicts. Great leaders prepare their teams for success by having difficult but necessary conversations about performance.

Bottom Line

It’s not the will to win that matters. It’s the will to prepare to win. Do the work to prepare yourself, your teammates, and your team for success.

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