Wooden On Leadership - Notes

Wooden as coach of UCLA basketball won 10 National Championships, of which 7 were consecutive

Secret to all that success – he taught good habits

‘Ultimately, I believe that’s what leadership is all about: helping others to achieve their own greatness’

‘I believe leadership itself is largely learned. Certainly not everyone can lead nor is everyone a leader destined for glory, but most of us have a potential far beyond what we think possible’.

Lesson taught to him by his father, ‘don’t worry about whether you’re better than somebody else, but never cease trying to be the best you can become. You have control over that; the other you don’t’.

‘Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.’

Focus on the process instead of the prize – this is the heart of developing a performance culture / process

‘I judge success on how close we came to realizing our potential’


Before you can lead others, you must be able to lead yourself

Don’t hastily replace the old fashioned with the new fangles – There is no progress without change, but not all change is progress


Write down the tasks ,initiatives, and actions that each member of your team needs to do to perform at his or her peak level – get as specific as possible for each of your direct reports

Pyramid of success

‘I believe there is no more powerful leadership tool than your own personal example’.

‘There is no trick, no easy way to accomplish the difficult task, no substitute for old fashioned work’.

The heights by great men reached are kept, were not attained by sudden flight. But while their companions slept they were toiling upward in the night’ – Henry Wadswrth Longfellow

Pyramid model for success – a teaching model given to all team members and constantly taught reinforced and used as a handrail for all activity – in effect a doctrine for success.

‘Make a decision, take action; decide what your’re going to do and do it. Keep this word of caution in mind: Failure to act is often the biggest failure of all’

Distinguish between mistakes of commission and omission – the former are designed to make things happen, the latter too often from fear of a mistake or doing something wrong.

‘Failure is a necessary ingredient of success’

System for teaching basketball – ‘condition, fundamentals and unity’ from Coach lambert at Purdue a long time influence on Wooden – in other words basics done well

The star of the team is the team – when individuals are not selfish and not looking for personal credit the team is put first. We must supersede me.

Good values attract good people – and foster an environment of integrity

Character – defined by the choices we make each day. ‘I sought character in players rather than players who were characters’

The most productive model for good leadership is a good parent – ‘I believe you must have love in your heart for the people under your leadership’

‘Effective leaders are first and foremost good teachers’.

‘Its what you learn after you know it all that counts’

Every player needs to understand how their contribution adds to the whole – every basket scored takes 10 hands

High performance is achieved only through the identification and perfection of small but relevant details – little things done well. Mother Teresa, ‘There are no big things, only little things done with love.’

Don’t mistake activity for achievement

Surround yourself with people strong enough to change your mind

Long term success requires short term focus – ie the score takes care of itself, focus on the process, in relentless detail.