The success that Jim Harbaugh is having as the head coach of the 49ers provides us with a wonderful opportunity to learn about how he as resurrected the 49ers organization. Jeffri Chadiha of ESPN.com provides his readers with insight into Jim Harbaugh leadership DNA. I was able to find 6 Leadership Principles that Jim Harbaugh applies as the head coach. You can read the entire article here.
1. Leadership must have a message that resonates with its followers.
There’s a story San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh told his team not too long ago, one that has quickly turned into an inspirational message for a squad that has surprised everybody with its 7-1 start. It’s about Harbaugh’s childhood as the youngest son of former longtime college coach Jack Harbaugh, back when his family never complained about constant moving or tiny, cramped homes. Jack actually would get so energized while driving his kids around that he’d shout, “Who has it better than us?” Every time, Jim would scream with his older brother John and younger sister Julie, “Nobody!”
When Harbaugh told this story, he didn’t rely on predictable histrionics or dramatic embellishments. He delivered the tale the same way he usually speaks, with a clear, measured tone designed to drive home the larger point. If the 49ers wanted to look at their circumstances heading into this season — the most notable being a mere six weeks to get acclimated to their first-year coach after the NFL lockout — they could find ample reason to wilt. If they wanted to do what Harbaugh did back in the day, which was focus intensely on the positives, they might just create magic.
It’s a message that has so resonated with the 49ers that they chant “Nobody!” every time Harbaugh yells, “Who has it better than us?” after practices and games.
“We ran with it,” 49ers inside linebacker Patrick Willis said. “The whole point is that no matter what people say on the outside, we have enough for what we need. I don’t know if he meant for that to become a motivational story but that’s exactly what it is now.”
2. Leadership must be passionate about developing genuine relationships.
“You can see that he’s passionate, and guys respond to that,” 49ers wide receiver Braylon Edwards said. “When you’re genuine, it’s easy for guys to buy into your message. They’ve had good players here for a while. Now you’re seeing good players becoming great.”
3. Leadership is best developed in obscurity.
“Al Davis told Harbaugh that countless ex-players had approached him about coaching jobs in the past and they all claimed to love the game until they actually realized the hours involved. So Davis made Harbaugh two promises: He would be tested as a low-level offensive assistant, and he’d see how much he wanted to coach. Harbaugh spent the next two years working long hours in a basement office and doing menial tasks, such as assembling special scouting reports for Davis.”
4. Leadership makes the big time wherever they have the opportunity to lead.
Harbaugh was so committed to winning at USD that 49ers quarterbacks coach and good friend Geep Chryst said, “They had to calm him down at times. He was running the program like it was Michigan.”
5. Leadership is committed to developing the talent it inherits.
Smith figured Harbaugh was preparing to dump him when they first met in January. Instead, Harbaugh popped in some game film and peppered Smith — who had been mediocre in six seasons with the team — with questions about his decision-making.
6. Leadership is most effective when it’s centered on servantship.
Over time, more players noticed their coach’s intriguing nature. One day Harbaugh walked out to practice and realized the goal posts were on the wrong side of one field. “He actually grabbed [49ers GM] Trent Baalke and started moving them himself,” 49ers kicker David Akers said. “He wasn’t standing there looking majestic while some assistant did the grunt work. We were sitting there as players, thinking we should probably help the guy.”