The 4th Quarter, 2013

Vince Lombardi spoke many years ago on a subject since known as “What It Takes to be Number One.” It is about business, life and family.

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”

Winning needs to be defined for the organization. Successful companies do this. Most companies don’t.

“There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that’s first place. I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay , and I don’t ever want to finish second again. There is a second place bowl game, but it is a game for losers played by losers. It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do, and to win, and to win, and to win.”

A winning team must have winning players. Those lacking attitude don’t make the team. First place companies don’t tolerate people who don’t carry their weight, don’t do the right things, lack a team-first attitude and fail to care for customers or teammates. These people land at second place companies, or worse.

“Every time a football player goes to play his trade he’s got to play from the ground up — from the soles of his feet right up to his head. Every inch of him has to play. Some guys play with their heads. That’s O.K. You’ve got to be smart to be number one in any business. But more importantly, you’ve got to play with your heart, with every fiber of your body. If you’re lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he’s never going to come off the field second.”

Woody Allan said eighty percent of success is just showing up. Winners don’t just show up, they give 100% and more. How many of your employees aren’t even 80% players?

“Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organization — an army, a political party or a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win — to beat the other guy. Maybe that sounds hard or cruel. I don’t think it is.”

Most companies don’t do spend any time determining how to beat the competition. Does your competitive analysis pick apart the competition’s talent? Winning companies focus on talent.

“It is a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That’s why they are there — to compete; to know the rules and objectives when they get in the game. The object is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules — but to win.

Have you shared the rules of the game? Bill Walsh coached his team to many Super Bowl victories and was considered a genius; he knew the rule book better than his competitors.

“And in truth, I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head to head combat.”

Those in your company that arrive early, work hard, stay focused and do the right thing for the company send a strong message. This resonates with winning. What about the rest?

“I don’t say these things because I believe in the “brute” nature of man or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle — victorious.”

You know how it feels to win. To get from where you are now to where you want be, you must transfer that winning feeling to those you lead. That is what winners do, especially now, in the last quarter of 2013.