Summary: Wooden on Leadership By John Wooden
Summary: Wooden on Leadership By John Wooden

Summary: Wooden on Leadership By John Wooden

The Pyramid of Success

Leadership Success Begins with a Solid Foundation.

The Pyramid of Success starts with the powerful cornerstone of Industriousness. Success requires hard work. Absent the quality of Industriousness, you will fail as a leader. Commit to work hard and then stay committed until you are able to identify a single great leader who achieved success without it. (You will not find one.)

There Is No Substitute for Enthusiasm.

A leader needs a fire-in-the-belly drive in order to ignite the team. Few will follow someone who seems to lack fervor for a challenging job. To spark others to extraordinary performance levels, you need authentic Enthusiasm. It cannot be forced or faked. You must truly welcome—embrace—the trials and tribulations of competition.

Friendship, Loyalty, and Cooperation Complete the Foundation for Leadership.

The best leaders are more interested in finding what’s right than in always being right. They understand how much more can be accomplished if no one cares who gets credit. The interpersonal characteristics of Friendship (camaraderie and respect), Loyalty, and Cooperation create the sincere and solid bond necessary between you and those you lead. These are qualities that must be nurtured in your organization. Put them in place, and you will have built a foundation that will eventually bring forth success.


The Pyramid’s Second Tier

Leadership Starts with Self-Control.

Remember, “control of your organization begins with control of yourself.” When you lose control, you sanction the same behavior 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.

Be a Heads-Up Leader.

Make Alertness a habit. Take the necessary steps to see what’s coming. The most effective leaders think two or three steps ahead. They know the details of their business and constantly monitor their surroundings, the inner workings of their organizations, their competitors, and anything else likely to affect the performance of their team.

Make Sure Your Team Does Not Come Up Short in the Long Run—Intentness.

Call it focus, persistence, determination, or relentlessness, all add up to the same thing: You, the leader, must make sure your team doesn’t wander off the path of persistence. Losing focus, giving a half-hearted effort, or quitting before the task is complete are all hallmarks of those who aspire to, but never acquire, success. Few things are more important—especially in challenging times—than leadership that personifies Intentness, an unremitting determination to press on.


The Heart of the Pyramid

Condition Your Team to Love the Struggle.

The teams that compete at the highest level love the thrill of the contest. They may have winning in their heads, but they have a love for the effort and struggle in their hearts. A strong leader inspires teams to relish the competition itself and view the outcome as a byproduct—an important by-product, yes, but still a by-product.

Remember That Success Can Take Months—or Years—to Achieve but Can Be Undone in Minutes.

This is why conditioning—physical, mental, and moral—is so important. A leader must impress upon his or her team the paramount importance of ownership and personal accountability.

Organizations Succeed When They Become More Than the Sum of Their Players.

That’s one of the real tests of any leader, making the whole more than the sum of its parts. No team will consistently succeed unless the leader is able to achieve this critical goal.


Emotion is Your Enemy

Control Emotion or Emotion Will Control You.

Intensity, correctly applied and directed, produces consistent and positive improvement and results. Uncontrolled emotion or mercurial displays of temperament erode a leader’s stature, lessen respect from others, and will undermine your team’s efforts. The leader who does not know the difference between intensity and emotionalism may succeed on occasion, but the success will usually not be repeatable, reliable, or ongoing.

Avoid Excess. Shoot for Moderation.

effective leaders understand that moderation and balance are linked to long-term success. Excess in just about anything has the potential to create erratic performance. Communicate this fact throughout the ranks, and, of course, don’t forget that your own example is frequently the very best method of communication.

Instill Emotional Discipline.

Much of the overwrought behavior we see in sports today is the result of insufficient discipline. For example, a football player putting on a big show of celebration after making a tackle when his team is losing 27 to 3 late in the fourth quarter is demonstrating poor judgment, bad perspective, and lack of emotional discipline.

It is up to you, the leader, to insist that those in the organization demonstrate the same great emotional control that you have. Do you have it?


It Takes 10 Hands to Score a Basket

The Star of the Team Is the Team.

As leader, you must be consistent and persistent in delivering your Team First message. Top performers and producers must fully comprehend that others in the organization “assist”—make possible—their success. Individual awards and accolades are fine, but they must never overshadow the organization and its primacy.

Insist that Members of Your Team Share the “Ball”—Information, Ideas, and More.

The most effective leaders understand the importance of making sure that no member of the team hoards data, information, ideas, and the like. In business, it is the sharing of ideas and putting them to work that leads to a “best practice” mindset.

Go Out of Your Way to Praise Those “Quiet” Performers Who Make Things Happen.

In every organization there are those vital individuals who seem to get things done with little effort and less notice. In more cases than not, however, these key players work very hard to achieve what they do. Often their efforts are not visible to the group. These are the people that make the trains run on time, and they deserve your attention.


The Carrot is Mightier Than a Stick

Pride Is Easier to Instill with the Carrot.

The best leaders perhaps understand this fact intuitively. Members of an organization always fearful of penalty and punishment are at a great disadvantage when competing against a team filled with pride. This is so particularly over the long haul.

Make Sure All Praise Is Genuine and Appropriate.

Just as damaging as biting personal criticism is the compliment given but not meant. Your praise will have impact only to the extent that it is given honestly and in good faith. Anything else is usually perceived as such and becomes counterproductive.

Do Not Tolerate Internal Carping and Criticism.

Leaders should be solely responsible for critiquing and criticizing members of the team. The purpose of criticism is to correct, improve, and change. It is not to humiliate, demean, or punish. It is a task that requires great skill and judgment and is best left in the hands of able management and coaches.


Adversity is Your Asset

Always Assume Adversity.

All leaders and organizations are blind-sided by bad luck and misfortune in various ways at various times. The best leaders understand this and are seldom thrown off stride when it occurs. They recognize the opportunity it presents, namely, that your response can separate you and your organization from the competition whose leader is stunned and then disheartened when fate frowns. Expect the rough patches and allow them to make you stronger.

Don’t Make “Woe Is Me” Your Fight Song.

Leaders cannot allow themselves to be sidetracked by self-pity. Accurate self-assessment and team assessment is linked to success. This activity is impossible when you are bogged down in feeling sorrow for yourself, in denouncing misfortune. Make the best of what you’ve got; play the cards you are dealt. Walt Disney once said, “There is no education like adversity.” However, to gain this education you must be tough enough to overcome adversity rather than allowing adversity to overcome you.

Don’t Blame Failure on Fate.

You can stumble and fall, make errors and mistakes, but you are not a failure until you start blaming others, including fate, for your results. Always believe there is a positive to be found in the negative. Things usually happen for a reason, even when you are unable to discern the reason. Remember, “there is providence even in the fall of a sparrow.”