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Issue 114 - Fairness is Giving All People the Treatment They Earn and Deserve. It Doesn't Mean Treating Everyone Alike

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 3 Issue 114
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



This statement of Coach Wooden was a cornerstone of his leadership style. The idea was made clear in Coach’s annual preseason letter to the team. The following is an excerpt from Coach Wooden's letter to the team on August 1, 1972:
You may feel, at times, that I have double standards as I certainly will not treat you all the same. However, I will attempt to give each player the treatment that he earns and deserves according to my judgment, and in keeping with what I consider to be in the best interest of the team. I know I will not be right in all of my decisions, but I will attempt to be both right and fair.
In his book Wooden on Leadership, with Steve Jamison, Coach explains how he came to adapt this leadership style:
At one point in my career, I told players I would treat them all the same way. This is what I told my own two children. I thought treating everyone the same was being fair and impartial.
Gradually I began to suspect that it was neither fair nor impartial. In fact, it was just the opposite. That’s when I began announcing that team members wouldn’t be treated the same or alike; rather, each one would receive the treatment they earned and deserved.
This practice may sound discriminatory or suggest partiality, but it is neither. A player who is working hard and productively for the group shouldn’t receive the same treatment as someone who is offering less.
In his later years of coaching, Coach Wooden had only three rules and many suggestions. The penalty for violating a team policy was not defined in advance. This gave Coach the ability to be firm and flexible and handle each situation on an individual basis.
In his book The Essential Wooden, with Steve Jamison, Coach describes how his leadership style evolved:
When I started out, I ruled from the head, saw everything in black and white. A rule was a rule (and I had plenty); break it and suffer the consequences.
As my leadership skills evolved - improved - I recognized that alternatives and options were necessary and that I needed to factor in the ramifications of my disciplinary actions.
Good judgment was crucial; a sense of fairness, always important; balance essential, of course.
All this was hard to do, perhaps impossible, while I was locked into long lists of rules and regulations with automatic penalties applied to each and every one.
I certainly didn't become wishy-washy, but I became adept at using discipline in a manner that was productive, that was applied appropriately, and that didn't cause damage.
Logic and feelings - the head and the heart. Getting it right, achieving the proper balance is one of the most challenging areas of leadership.
Wilfred Peterson, in his essay The Art of Leadership, put it this way:
The leader uses his heart as well as his head. After he has considered the facts with his head, he lets his heart take a look too.
Hope this was helpful.

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman
Twitter: @woodenswisdom




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Favorite Poetry




Leader leads with a heart
that charms one to act
With prudence and tact
Not with a tongue that hurts
Like a dagger's scratch.

Empower others with concern
With vigor and zest to learn
Things one needs to discern
In order to properly govern
and earn respect in return.

Acts always with prudent mind
In order to properly outline
Things that needs to be define
To insure all things to be fine
With compassion so divine.

Decide to solve any malady
Affecting his unit or entity
With decisive impartiality
In order not to put in jeopardy
The life and dignity of anybody.

Melvin Banggollay 





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