"Coach" at Purdue Coach John Wooden Coach on the sidelines at UCLA game
Wooden Way Leadership

A Business Management Seminar Based on the Leadership Principles of the "Coach of the Century"


Seminar Description

Who Should Attend

A Sampler of Principles

Focus on effort, not on winning

At face value, this principle is not the norm in today's "management by objective" and "corporate scoreboard" world. 

Believe it or not, Coach Wooden rarely discussed with his team the importance of winning.  In fact, he was neither a cheerleader nor an evangelist about setting any quantitative measures by which to judge success or failure.

He just focused on effort and on-going skill development as steeping stones toward competitive greatness. 

Part of this philosophy can be traced back to the Coach's upbringing when his father encouraged him to "just do the best you can."  The thinking was that if you gave your maximum effort in preparation and in execution, the results would follow and you could hold your head high in victory or defeat.  In a vivid illustration of this point, young John did not cry in the locker room, as did many of his teammates after losing the state championship game in his senior year of high school because he knew he had given his best effort. 

Coach encouraged his players to focus upon that which they could control, and he provided continuous feedback.  He wanted his players to know that missed free throws at the beginning of a game were just as important as at the end.  He wanted them to know that mistakes needed to be corrected as soon as possible.  He stressed fundamentals; fostered healthy competitiveness balanced with camaraderie, communicated accountabilities, and even went as far as having the players rate themselves.  If he felt there were effort shortcomings, changes were made.

For organizational leadership to be effective, one must develop skills around becoming a "performance coach" that focus upon effort. This translates into management activities such as providing direction, integrating roles, determining and communicating accountabilities, being results-oriented and knowing the difference between "helpful" advice and "criticism."