Wooden Wednesday | Volume 3, Issue
May 3, 2017
You must listen
to others if you want others to listen to you. This favorite idea of
Coach Wooden’s reflects the way that he chose to interact with other
Coach Wooden was an extraordinary listener; in part, I believe,
because he knew each time he listened he would learn something.
On a personal level, I am not a good listener, as I am usually
thinking about what I’m going to say next while the other person is
One afternoon I was sitting in Coach’s den with Coach, my wife and
my mother-in-law, Nan Wooden (Coach’s daughter); I had made my mind
up that I was going to be a great listener that day.
After about a half an hour Nan asked me: “Honey are you feeling
okay? You’re awful quiet today.” I proudly replied “Yes, Grandnan,
I’m just working on my listening skills.”
Coach laughed and motioned me to come over to his desk next to him.
He leaned over and whispered this rhyme:
A wise old owl sat in an Oak.
The more he heard the less he spoke.
The less he spoke the more he heard
Now wasn’t he a wise old bird?
Coach believed effective leadership starts with
effective listening. In Wooden on Leadership, he put it this
In my opinion, being an effective leader — one
who can build a winning organization — requires being an effective
The most productive leaders are usually those who
are consistently willing to listen and learn. Perhaps it stems from
their understanding that success is more often attained by asking
“how?” Than by saying “no”.
Coach also believed the key to maintaining success was continuing to
listen after you become successful. Coach summed it up this way:
It is very easy to get comfortable in a position
of leadership, to believe that you’ve got all the answers,
especially when you begin to enjoy some success.
People start telling you that you’re the smartest one around.
That’s one of the reasons it’s extremely difficult to stay at the
top — because once you get there, it is so easy to stop listening
Coach liked to say: when you’re through learning
you’re through. And when you’re through listening you’re through
Yours in Coaching,