What It Takes To Be #1

Vince Lombardi on Leadership

Written by: Vincent Lombardi, Jr.

Published By: McGraw-Hill

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            When people think of entertainment, they don’t usually think of business books.  However, it has been my experience that many members of the business world find such books to be very entertaining and useful tools for their daily lives.  Thus, I decided to review this book about leadership by Vincent Lombardi, Jr.

            I was first introduced to What It Takes to Be #1: Vince Lombardi on Leadership by a Baruch College professor who referred to it in a management skills seminar I took part in.  I was intrigued by the lines quoted from the book, and knowing just how successful Vince Lombardi was in getting his teams to put on their very best performances every time they took to the field, I decided to read it myself.

            As a football coach, Vince Lombardi is the standard to which every coach holds himself to.  He carried the best win record in the history of the NFL.  How did he inspire his teams to greatness?  The Green Bay Packers were a losing team before he became their coach.  They went on to win three championship games in a row, two of which were the very first Super Bowls ever played.  How did he cause such a turnabout?  Through leadership.  In What It Takes to Be #1: Vince Lombardi on Leadership, Vincent Lombardi, Jr. seeks to define his father’s leadership style and transform it into something that any manager / supervisor can use as a tool to improve upon their own businesses.  Vince Lombardi had some very definite views on what a leader should be to his people and how to inspire them.  The tools his son lays out to his readers are easily understood and applied. 

            Although he was a man that inspired greatness, Lombardi was a very down to the earth person with a strict moral code.  It was interesting to read about the man and the legend and discover what methods he found successful enough to inspire such dedication and commitment out of the players he coached.  He wasn’t afraid to make mistakes, but he believed that one should learn from their mistakes and better themselves so that they would not be repeated.  He did not tolerate laziness or a lackadaisical attitude toward goals.  He never asked his players for more commitment than he was willing to put in.

            Lombardi, Jr. uses quotes from his father’s many inspirational speeches, as well as quotes to the press, to illustrate his points on effective leadership.  He points out that a leader must have an idea of what goals he wants to attain.  He must make it clear to those he is working with that he is willing to put forth as much effort as they are in attaining these goals.  He must have a clear sense of purpose and an understanding of what makes his “players” tick – what motivates them.  He must keep them well-informed so that they know whether or not they are making steps toward their goals. 

            What It Takes to Be #1: Vince Lombardi on Leadership by Vincent Lombardi, Jr. is a must read for any supervisor in the business world, whether that business be a chain of stores, a civil service position, or a corporate enterprise.  Thanks to Lombardi’s own inspiration-building prose and his son’s writing skills, the reader walks away from this book feeling empowered – as though he has all the tools he needs to make his business run more successfully.  What It Takes to Be #1 is an excellent and fast read that will change your attitude as a leader and push you in the right direction toward achieving your goals.


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