A simple, but structured leadership approach enabled one coach to take his team from a long losing streak, to victory.


Regardless of whether or not you like American football (gridiron), there’s some big leadership takeaways in the story of the  Michigan Wolverines’ head coach, Jim Harbaugh. After losing eight consecutive games to the team’s arch-rival Ohio State, many people wanted Harbaugh gone. Harbaugh’s players, however, stood behind their coach. Harbaugh did what all great leaders do—get their people to believe in themselves. Harbaugh took the following approach with his team:

Believe in yourself and your team. Harbaugh instilled purpose and pride in those he led. He did this despite a soul-destroying losing streak.

Establish the purpose. People want to believe in something greater than themselves. For the Wolverines, it was to establish (or re-establish) a winning tradition. 

Set the goals. Goals are the milestones that anchor purpose. 

Support the effort. Good leaders provide the resources teams need to succeed. 

Teach resilience. Leaders show how to deal with adversity.

Maintain composure. When things get tough, people look to their leader. If a leader is acting jittery or upset, people feel that tension. 

Maintaining that positive and consistent leadership framework led Harbaugh and his players to a 42-27 victory over their long-time arch-rivals in November 2021.



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