Book Summary: Wooden on Leadership

"Am I the biggest, the fastest, the best?" As leaders, we should avoid these inquiries, according to basketball coach John Wooden.

While we all want good responses to these questions, Wooden believes they're counterproductive to being a successful leader.

His strategy is to not be concerned with whether or not we are better than others. We must keep in mind that we must never stop striving to be the best we can be. We have control over one; we don't have control over the other. Spending quality time comparing ourselves to others is a waste of time.

So, what are our options? Wooden lays out his Leadership Pyramid for us: He used fifteen progressive qualities during his long NBA career to identify his most important aspects.

Join us for the next 10 minutes to learn the foundations of effective leadership.

According to Wooden, how we run the race—our planning, preparation, practice, and performance—the four P's—counts for everything. Winning or losing is a by-product of that effort, an aftereffect.

First and foremost, we must dedicate ourselves and our company to becoming more than first "by any means."

We must define success as making the most of one's abilities, talents, and potential in every situation, good or bad. As a result, like the pyramids of Giza, Wooden's pyramid is built on solid foundations.

The Cornerstones

A man is riding a horse on board game.

INDUSTRIOUSNESS and ENTHUSIASM are the two cornerstones of Wooden's pyramid. All additional stones are positioned in relation to the cornerstones, determining the whole construction. Without them, there is no success.


Do you like to dream or act? Action is the only way to achieve success. While many individuals may grumble about a difficult day at work, they probably didn't do anything. That isn't a job. That isn't what it means to be busy.

We need to offer work in which we are entirely engrossed, fully engaged, and utterly focused. That is the definition of industriousness. When we are industrious, time flies past. We can test and assess because we are industrious.

Industriousness helps us get things done.


Enthusiasm is the second Cornerstone. Work that isn't enjoyable is drudgery. And drudgery does not breed successful companies. If we feel like we're always waiting for the work week to end so we can do something else, we'll never be successful.

We must be excited about our jobs. As leaders, we must be full of energy, enthusiasm, pleasure, and passion for what we do, according to Wooden. We cannot perform to our full potential if we lack enthusiasm for our work.

Without enthusiasm, success is impossible to achieve.

Industriousness and enthusiasm are contagious when combined. A leader who exemplifies them will discover that their organization does as well.

The Load Bearers

They are trying to help a boy that almost drawn.

The remaining bricks in Wooden's pyramid's foundation are FRIENDSHIP, LOYALTY, and COOPERATION, all of which entail constructive human contact.


Some may wonder if it is wise for a leader to make friends with people under his command. Wooden promotes friendship under the pretense of camaraderie and mutual respect. Working together for a shared goal is what camaraderie entails; it's essential for a successful team.

However, Wooden warns that there is a danger in playing favorites and allowing our biases to distort our judgment. We demonstrate respect and acknowledgment for each member's talents and contributions by not doing so.


Loyalty is a natural aspect of being human, and strong teams need to succeed. Wooden believes that we can't be successful leaders until we strongly commit to our company, which isn't easy.

It all starts with self-loyalty—to our own standards, systems, and beliefs. When people we lead realize that we care about their interests and wellbeing beyond merely calculating how we may exploit them to our benefit, they become loyal.

If we do so, Wooden claims, we will discover loyalty and a community of people who will stick together even when things go bad.


Cooperation, or the sharing of knowledge, concepts, imagination, responsibilities, and duties, focuses on excellent leadership, but it is difficult to achieve.

According to Wooden, it's difficult for a strong-willed leader to include collaboration since listening to others might lead to confusion and doubt in one's own judgment and views. Our ego gets in the way of our ability to see and hear.

A competent leader recognizes that welcoming honest disagreements and fresh ways of thinking from their team and others shows strength.

The Headstones

A man is standing and holding a paper at office with other coworker.

The second level of Wooden's pyramid focuses on how we can effectively use our heads as leaders. Four blocks are identified by Wooden.


According to Wooden, self-control is a characteristic of the real competitor and an effective leader. It is required for consistency in leadership and team performance. Control of the organization begins with control of ourselves, just as it does with loyalty.

True leadership necessitates credibility and consistency in behavior, which is difficult to attain without self-control. It begins with emotional control and progresses to having the resolve to resist the easy option, the low-hanging fruit, and all forms of temptation.


Alertness, or the capacity to continually observe and comprehend what is going on around us, is an important part of leadership and the pursuit of continuous development.

A great leader, according to Wooden, is awake, alive, and vigilant in assessing their own strengths and shortcomings, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of their company and rivals. Leaders who thrive in a competitive atmosphere see things coming even when their peers don't. This is made feasible through alertness.


A leader should have initiative—the bravery to make decisions and take action and the desire and strength to risk failure and take a stance even when others disagree. A weak leader persists in the competition, often to the group's harm.

According to Wooden, hesitancy, indecisiveness, and fear of failure are not qualities of excellent leadership. Winning entails making mistakes.


Intentness is the fourth "headstone." Without it, Wooden thinks, we will stumble, fade, and quit. Intent indicates tenacity and resolution, as well as diligence and determination.

Our organization thrives when we are focused. Regrettably, the opposite is also true. A leader who lacks Intent will lead a team that is willing to give up. Even when others tell us the game is finished, our will keeps us in it.

The Heart of the Pyramid

A leader achieve goals and celebrated by his employee.

The third level of the pyramid focuses on a great leader's more intangible qualities.


Wooden thinks that mental and moral strength are required to reach one's full potential as a leader in any organization. In whatever we do, he advises, we should exercise moderation and balance.

In terms of right and wrong, and in other areas, the leader must lead by example. Workaholics, for example, do not have a sense of balance. Imbalance, in Wooden's perspective, is a flaw that leads to difficulties sooner or later.

Inconsistency in performance is likely to be the first issue. Being in excellent mental and moral shape is essential for effective leadership.

It begins with excellent physical health since a physically unfit leader is less likely to stand up and fight for beliefs, principles, and standards.


The second intangible component is skill: we must understand all aspects of our work, not just portions of it, and execute swiftly and accurately. Being prepared to perform everything our job entails will soon set ourselves and our company apart from the competitors.

The finest leaders, according to Wooden, recognize that winning at any level necessitates continual learning and growth. Our team will not perform at 100 percent until we, as a leader, convey this up and down the line—and put procedures in place to ensure it gets done.

Team Spirit

Team spirit is the third intangible. Wooden, an accomplished sports coach, is eager to emphasize that "the team is the star."

Team spirit is a willingness to put one's own interests or glory aside for the group's good. It's a driving force that converts people who are "performing their jobs right" into an organization whose members are fully dedicated to working at their best for the group's benefit.

Members of such an organization are selfless, compassionate, and put the organization's aims ahead of their own, even if it means sacrificing personal wants.

The Top Tiers

3 bestfriend having each other back.

Building on the three levels indicated by Wooden results in a rich and gratifying harvest that will carry you and your company the rest of the way. He divides this into two categories: POISE and CONFIDENCE.


Wooden describes poise as being genuine to oneself, not being shaken, thrown off, or imbalanced no matter the occasion or circumstance. Poise is defined as avoiding comparing ourselves to others and acting like someone we are not.

Poise is defined as having a courageous heart in any situation. Our composure is more tested as the stakes rise and the threats to you and your company grow.

Few qualities are more important to a leader than poise, especially when your calm and serenity are increasingly tested in a competitive atmosphere.

According to Wooden, we will perform at our best when we have composure since it counteracts terror. Even when the odds are stacked against us, and everyone else thinks we'll fail, we'll know what we're intended to do.


Confidence, like poise, can only be gained by pursuing and acquiring assets that enable us to achieve our own degree of competency—our inner potential.

Wooden cautions us to keep an eye on our confidence so that it does not become arrogance. Arrogance, often known as elitism, is a sense of superiority based on the belief that prior achievement will be reproduced without the same amount of hard work that led to it in the first place.

Competitive Greatness

When we have properly planned and created our own pyramid of success, Wooden thinks we will be able to top it off with the last block: COMPETITIVE GREATNESS.

Victory or defeat do not define or negate competitive greatness. It can be found in the work that leads up to achievement or failure. Fame, money, and power do not guarantee competitive greatness. It is gained by experience and learning along the way.

Wooden's leadership pyramid, like a physical structure, is kept together by its own form of mortar: FAITH AND PATIENCE.

A leader must have faith in the future to believe that things will turn out as they should. A leader must also have patience and believe that persistent, consistent, and persevering people will succeed.

Leadership isn't something you can achieve overnight. Leadership is a long game that requires you to invest in the future by using the building pieces outlined.

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