Friday, December 18, 2009

Wooden on Leadership


Leadership starts with self-control. Remember, control of your organization begins with control of yourself. When you lose control, you sanction the same behaviour for those under your leadership—the team. There is never an excuse for violating this imperative, and when you do, your credibility and consistency as a leader diminish accordingly. — Coach John Wooden

John Wooden is without question one of the most respected and honoured sports coaches in history. But it wasn't winning games that drove him; it was ensuring that, regardless of the final score, his players always put forth their utmost effort and performed to the best of their abilities. For him, it was never about the number of wins and losses: It was about how the game was played.

In fact, his players say they don't recall their coach ever stressing the importance of winning a game. For Wooden, it was about sticking to the fundamentals. "On the first day of practice, I remember him saying, 'I'm not going to be talking to you about winning or losing because I think that's a by-product of our preparation. I would much rather be focused on the process of becoming the best team we're capable of becoming,'" says John Vallely, who played under Wooden on the 1969 and 1970 UCLA national championship basketball teams.

Judging from his relationships with former players, perhaps the greatest business lesson to be learned from Wooden is how leaders should treat the people around them. "Make those under your supervision understand that you really care for them, not just for what they're doing in the corporation but that you really care for them," Wooden says. "I think anyone in a supervisor position has to do that." For him, that meant letting his players know they weren't playing for him, but with him as they worked toward a common goal. "Team spirit, loyalty, enthusiasm, determination. . . . Acquire and keep these traits and success should follow."

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