“Watch Me”? – A Leader’s Best Ally
John Wooden is the only person inducted into both the basketball Players’ and Coaches’ Halls of Fame. Before he retired in 1976, his UCLA Bruins had won 10 NCAA basketball championships. In one 1971-to-’74 stretch, they won 88 games straight!
“There has never been another coach like Wooden,” wrote Rick Reilly in Sports Illustrated, “quiet as an April snow and square as a game of checkers; loyal to one woman, one school, one way.”
What He Said…A Leader’s Best Ally
I began smoking during World War II. I’d quit during basketball season—stopping on my birthday in October and starting again when the season ended. I never smoked in front of the boys. I finally quit to improve my example. I was convicted. I couldn’t expect my players not to do what I was doing.
A leader’s most powerful ally is his own example. There’s hypocrisy to the phrase “Do as I say, not as I do.” I refused to make demands on my boys that I wasn’t willing to live out in my own life. Hypocrisy undermines respect, and if people don’t respect you, they won’t willingly follow you. One of my players complimented me greatly when he said, “Coach, you walked the talk.”
At the beginning of each season I’d give my players a letter. Part of it went like this: “Cleanliness, neatness, politeness, and good manners are qualities that should be characteristic of those who are of great influence on young people, and you certainly qualify for that category. Be a good example.”
Adapted from Coach Wooden: One-on-One (Regal, 2003)