Leadership and Why Jim Harbaugh Will Fail
As a life-long 49er fan, you can put me down as not a fan of Jim Harbaugh. From experience in working with thousands of leaders, I know Harbough will either have to drastically change his behavior – and soon – or he will fail. As the local and national media have described, he is an embarrassing buffoon on the sidelines. It is only a matter of time before he alienates his players (if he hasn’t already with his nonsensical play-calling at the end of the Super Bowl). See, his kind of uncontrolled, raging behavior undermines the credibility that is essential for long-term success as a leader. A leader’s team members need to see consistency and congruency in their leader’s words and behavior such that they have a deep confidence in his or her abilities and character. It’s just not there with Harbaugh. And his blaming the officials sets an example for team members that personal responsibility has its limits. It is okay to blame instead of take 100% responsibility for what happens.
To succeed over the long-term, a leader has to build some margin. Harbaugh has lost his margin with the officials. I have heard from people who know officials that they, tired of being constantly berated by him, will never make an arguable call in his favor. He has lost most of his margin with the media, and if you think that doesn’t matter these days, we aren’t on the same page anyway. And he is likely close to losing his margin with his players. When adversity or an opportunity with another team arise, it is easy for a player to say, “Well, this guy is not a good long-term bet…I’m bailing.” When adversity arises, or other opportunities arise that might pay more money, that’s when the integrity of the leader and the values he or she has instilled in the organization kick in to act as the glue that holds a team together. My suggestion to Harbaugh: study Bill Walsh. Consummate leadership!