I was looking for a John Wooden quote to start this post, and while I hadn’t seen this one before, its perfect because it encapsulates everything I have read about this amazing man. Its laughable that he never focused on winning. Not because it isn’t true, but because he is probably the most successful sporting coach ever.
After being an All-American basketball player himself at college, he went on to coach the UCLA basketball team for many years. During that time, he:
- Maintained a winning record of more than 80%
- Between 1959 and 1975 (16 seasons) he coached his team to winning more than 10 national championships
- Of that 10, there were 7 consecutive national championships won
- By the way, no other team has ever won more than 4 times!!
- Every year, a third of his squad would change, yet he maintained consistency in his results
- Yet he never focused on winning.
What did he do that was so special?
He emphasised the character of his players, and often spoke about values and how living with strong values contributed to life. He focused on creating clarity for each player about their role on the team, and what expected of them each game.
How did this play out? On game day, if they lost but everyone played to their role and performed to their expectations, he was happy and proud of his team.
If they won, but didn’t follow the game plan, he wasn’t happy and he let them know it.
I think there is much we can learn from this in business. Not only about leadership and values, but the importance of establishing a process and in everyone understanding their role in the overall business, not just within their department.
Game plan, purpose, accountability, feedback are hallmarks of every successful team, not only on the playing field.