Book Review: Wooden on Leadership

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John Wooden had an unparalleled record of success as a basketball coach. Sporting News called him the greatest coach ever, and ESPN named him the Coach of the Century. That’s not why I read his book.

Two people I respect, Michael Wade and Ken Downer, said Wooden on Leadership was a great leadership book. Michael even put it on a par with Peter Drucker’s Effective Executive.

I confess I was leery about a leadership book written by a basketball coach. I worried it would be filled with sports analogies. I should have trusted my friends’ judgement. Wooden on Leadership is a great leadership book. There are two reasons I think you should read this leadership book, even if you have a bunch of other leadership books under your belt.

Reading this book is like talking to a thoughtful expert practitioner. There’s no leadership voodoo, no talking about leadership as if it was a mystical calling. Instead, it’s principles and practice. There are several places in the book where Wooden shares things he did that didn’t work or that he was ashamed of. I don’t know any leader who doesn’t have things like that, and it gave the book a good feel.

You can put Wooden on Leadership to work today. I don’t care where you work. It doesn’t matter that it’s been a decade since John Wooden died, and a half century since he was the coach at UCLA. The world is very different. Your business is probably very different from college basketball, but you can use this stuff.

In A Nutshell

Wooden on Leadership is a thoughtful, expert practitioner’s observations about how to do a good job as a leader. If you haven’t read it yet, buy it and read it. If you have read it, go back to it from time to time.

You can check out some of my highlights and notes from this book on my GoodReads page.


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