It's a Project Manager's World Newsletter with Dr. James Brown
      June, 2015 Full Moon Edition      

Wooden on Leadership - Book Review  

Wooden on Leadership  is one of the best leadership books I have ever read. The two themes I like most are below and then my top 20 highlights from the book are provided.

  1. One of the primary things I like about Wooden’s leadership style is that he believes in maintaining emotional control at all times. He wants intensity not emotionalism and there is a difference.
  • Comments - Too many times I encounter leaders that actually prohibit effectiveness because they have not managed to control their emotions. Unfortunately the media, especially the sports media mistakenly regularly convey that emotional displays or outbursts are leadership in action.
  1. Wooden believes the best leaders are lifelong learners.
  • Comments - This is absolutely true, but the challenge we have is making time for the learning. Leadership training and reading books on leadership is not primarily about getting new techniques. If you are experienced often you know the majority of what’s out there. Leadership training and reading books on leadership is about regulating behavior. We read the leadership books and take the training to assure we are performing according to what we know. I cannot even tell you how many times someone has come up to me after a leadership class and said some form of “you reminded me of many things I know and used to do but I had gotten away from them.” Leadership is a skill that involves fundamentals and subtleties and without continual review performance suffers. Professional sports teams don’t just practice the skills and plays they already know to occupy time, if they don’t practice what they already know performance suffers. They have to make time for practice. Learning is not just the acquisition of new knowledge it is also the reinforcement of what we already know. We have to make time for it. What was the last leadership book your boss read? What was the last leadership book you read?

My top 20 highlights from Wooden on Leadership

  1. Mutual respect and camaraderie strengthen your team. Affection, in fact, may weaken it by causing you to play favorites.
  2. First and foremost, you are their leader, not their buddy.
  3. As a leader you must be sincerely committed to what’s right rather than who’s right.
  4. For many years I’ve described one of the differences between a good leader and a prison guard is cooperation. When you carry a rifle it is unnecessary to listen...
  5. Self-Control in little things leads to control of bigger things. For example, the reason I prohibited profanity – a small issue – during practices was because it was usually caused by frustration or anger. I felt that a player who couldn’t control his language when he got upset during a scrimmage would be more likely to lose control in more damaging ways during the heat of competition – fouling, fighting, or making other poor decisions that would almost always hurt the team.
  6. Hesitancy, indecisiveness, vacillation, and fear of failure are not characteristics I associate with good leadership. I told our team many times: “Be quick, but don’t hurry.” By that I meant to make a decision, take action, decide what you’re going to do and do it. Keep this word of caution in mind: “Failure to act is often the biggest failure of all.”
  7. Mistakes, even failure, can be permissible so long as they do not result from carelessness or poor preparation
  8. “The one who once most wisely said, ‘Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.’ Might have added this to it, ‘Be sure you are wrong before you quit.’”
  9. 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 know after you know it all that counts most.
  10. Benjamin Franklin understood its value quite well: “Genius is nothing but a greater aptitude for patience.”
  11. “I will not like you all the same, but I will love you all the same. And whether I like you are not, my feelings will not interfere with my judgment of your effort and performance. You will be treated fairly. That’s a promise.”
  12. Nobody cares how much you know (until they know how much you care).
  13. That’s when I began announcing that the team members wouldn’t be treated the same or alike; rather, each one would receive the treatment they earned and deserved.
  14. Do not equate professional expertise with your ability to teach it.
  15. I prize intensity and fear emotionalism. Consistency in high performance and production is a trademark of effective and successful organizations and those who lead them. Emotionalism destroys consistency. A leader who is ruled by emotions, whose temperament is mercurial, produce a team whose trademark is roller coaster-ups and downs in performance; unpredictability and un-dependability in effort and concentration; one day good, the next day bad.
  16.  …emotional control is a primary component of consistency, which is in turn a component of success.
  17.  A volatile leader is like a bottle of nitroglycerine. The slightest knock and it blows up. Those around nitroglycerine or a temperamental boss spend all their time carefully tiptoeing back and forth rather than doing their jobs. It is not an environment, in my opinion conducive to winning organizations.
  18. Managing egos-the over- and underinflated, the forceful and the fragile- is one of the greatest challenges facing any leader.
  19. Explain to each team member precisely how his or her contributions connect to the welfare and success of the entire organization.
  20. PRIVATE AND PUBLIC PRAISE – Acknowledging top producers does not always have to be done publicly It is often effective for a leader to praise their outstanding performance when others are not around. It gives the “superstar” deserved recognition without creating resentment. Conversely, praise for those in lesser roles is often maximized by doing it in a more public manner.

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