The Jackhammer

Harbaugh is an inspirer of men.
With the Superbowl fast approaching and the San Francisco 49ers in the big game for the first time since the 1994 season, one cannot bear witness to the turn around in the Bay Area and not ponder how it came to be.

The power of belief in a cause, in a person, and in each other cannot be overstated when you look at what coach Jim Harbaugh has brought to every coaching post he has held since becoming a head coach at the University of San Diego (USD) in 2004.

An enthusiasm unknown to mankind

Harbaugh has brought a winning angle with him wherever he has traveled.  From a small school with no scholarships – USD, to a PAC 12 school with lofty academic standards – Stanford – that makes winning difficult year in and year out, to a moribund franchise in the NFL that had lost its way almost entirely – the 49ers – foundering in search of an identity in the shadow of what once was.
Jim Harbaugh (center) at Stanford


“What Jim Harbaugh has done with the 49ers is really remarkable, because people didn’t think this was a good team.  He’s a very smart coach, and a very good inspirer of men.”
-NPR

Harbaugh has a personality that some would call difficult. Acerbic by some standards he says of himself, “I know, I’m moody and complicated.”  Stubborn and persistent, he is not one to mince words or indulge in undue pleasantries.  Jim Harbaugh is not going to change who he is for anybody – cowards do that.

“We ask no quarter.  We give no quarter.”

“I’m not going to apologize for being fired up.  If that offends you or anybody else then so be it.”

Harbaugh isn’t afraid to lead.  Sometimes being a leader means making other people angry.
Harbaugh goes further,  “I don’t take vacations, I don’t get sick.  I don’t observe major holidays.  I’m a jackhammer.”  All you have to do is look back at the footage of Harbaugh and coach Jim Schwartz (Detroit Lions) at the mid-field stripe after the 49ers last minute win at Detroit on October 16, 2011 and you’ll see it, the exuberance of a wild man, and a passion for his craft that inspires an almost religious devotion from those in his charge.

Who has it better than us?  Nobody.

By all accounts there isn’t some complicated formula that Harbaugh and his staff have come up with to almost instantly turn around their work place wherever they go – its not Theory X, Y, or Z of leadership.  It’s simple really – be a stand up guy, say what you mean, and mean what you say.  All decisions are based on what is in the best interest of the collective, not the individual.  If you want to be an individual you need to find someplace else to work.

People only ask a few things of a leader – and it’s not too much to ask:
  • Be forthright
  • Have vision
  • Give clear direction
  • Have a game plan that works

Harbaugh’s commitment to his team and his way – the concept of one team working together toward the ultimate goal are uncompromising.  That’s what his guys love about him – that’s why they would follow him anywhere and through anything.  This belief – this collective soul – that Harbaugh inspires in his men wherever he goes is what drives his success.  The belief in the team concept is so strong and in turn the players belief in the leader so fervent, that success – while not assured – is made much more possible.  Harbaugh’s players go hard for him because he believes in them.

Harbaugh makes people believe.
Harbaugh’s leadership is effective because it is relentless.  He works his craft and his guys hard.  If people don’t like him he doesn’t seem to care.

Harbaugh is real.  “I’m not going to apologize for being fired up.  Apologies always sound like excuses to me.  If it offends you or anybody else then so be it.”

Harbaugh doesn’t need to be a media darling.  He is not about saying the right thing or being liked – his leadership will be defined by his results and how much his players revere him – not by how he is judged by outsiders.  Jim Harbaugh has that something – that God given talent that transcendent leaders have – he makes people believe.








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