Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization

“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.”
“The score will take care of itself when you take care of the effort that precedes the score.”
“I believe there is no more powerful leadership than your own personal example.”
“This occurs when Cooperation is present, when you are more concerned with “What’s right” than “Who’s right.”
“Alertness, the ability to be constantly observing, absorbing, and learning from what’s going on around you, is a critical component for the individual in charge, the leader who strives for continuous improvement. You must be constantly awake, alive, and alert in evaluating yourself as well as the strengths and weaknesses of your organization and your competitors.”
“Do not be afraid of mistakes, even of failure. Use good judgement based on all available information and then use Initiative. The leader who has fear of failure, who is afraid to act, seldom will face success.”
“Practice moderation and balance in all that you do.”
“The best leaders understand that to successfully compete at any level requires continuous learning and improvement.”
“The best leaders are lifelong learners; they take measures to create organizations that foster and inspire learning throughout. The most effective leaders are those who realize it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts most.”
“There is perhaps no stronger steel than well-founded self-belief: the knowledge that your preparation is complete, that you have done all things possible to ready yourself and your organization for the competition, whatever form it comes in.”
“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable.”
“I believe effective leaders are, first and foremost, good teachers.”
“I was asked, “Coach Wooden, how can I learn about human nature?” I replied, “Get old.” Of course, I was referring to the value of experience, the knowledge gained from doing something for years. There’s a quicker way to gain the information experience provides, namely, ask somebody who already has it.”
“Explain to each team member precisely how his or her contributions connect to the welfare and success of the entire organization.”
“He believed that winning is a result of process, and he was a master of the process, of getting us to focus on what we were doing rather than the final score.”
“Those under your leadership must be taught that little things make the big things happen. In fact, they must first learn there are no big things, only a logical accumulation of little things done at a very high standard of performance.”
“An individual grounded in fundamentals has, I believe, a much higher likelihood of success when sudden change is forced upon him.”
“Only when you fully comprehend the magnitude of the potential that exists in every individual minute will you begin to treat time with the grave respect it deserves. Over the decades I’ve observed that most effective leaders do not disrespect time, not a minute. They understand that when it comes to success - real achievement - time is of the essence. And the essence of success is time.”
“You “expand” time with proper organization and execution - an hour becomes longer than 60 minutes. A well-organized leader can get more done in two hours than a poorly organized coach gets done in two days.”
“When leaders instill the genuine belief that the opportunity for making great things happen is possible in every job, they have achieved something extraordinary. They have created an organization that fosters and breeds achievers, a superior team filled with the people striving to reach 100 percent of their potential in ways that serve the team. It becomes a force with exponential power and productivity.”
“When all members of your organization strive for personal greatness - and derive pride from what they contribute to the group - you will unleash powerful forces that will make your unit more effective and, ultimately, more competitive.”
“Let the ambitious individuals know that before advancing they must first perform their assigned roles with great skill. Before calculus comes geometry; before geometry comes addition and subtraction. Each must be mastered in its turn before the individual advances to the next level. Before a player on our team could move to an expanded role, he must have demonstrated complete mastery of the role he had been given.”
“He did not want “yes men” around him. We were encouraged to argue our points, knowing he’d come back at us strong with his own opinions. That was his way of testing how much we believed in what we were telling him and how much we knew about it.”
“Respect all; fear none; concentrate on improving and executing our own system to the highest level possible. That was always my approach.”
“A good leader never stops learning. A great leader never stops teaching.”
“My preferred method of instruction was the whole-part system, which broke the “whole,” that is, playing basketball, down into small pieces that could be worked on selectively and perfected. Those pieces included how to execute a shot correctly, eye movement, hand placement, passing, pivoting, catching, running routes on plays, the specifics of rebounding, defensive systems and more.”
“And that, in my opinion, is the first goal of leadership - namely, getting the very best out of the people in your organization, whether they have talent to spare or are spare on talent.”