|Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 2
|Craig Impelman Speaking | Championship Coaches | Champion's Leadership Library Login
LISTEN IF YOU WANT TO BE HEARD
This maxim of Coach Wooden’s describes a quality that Coach felt was essential to be an effective leader.
A key element in the art of listening is to not be thinking about what you're going to say while the other person is talking. The art of quieting your thoughts and really hearing the other person with an open mind sometimes requires a conscious effort.
In the book How to Be like Coach Wooden by Pat Williams, Coach describes the importance of effective listening:
In my opinion, being an effective leader requires being an effective listener. Success is more often attained by asking `how?' than by saying `no."
Listen to those under your supervision. Really listen. Don't act as though you're listening and let it go in one ear and out the other. Faking it is worse than not doing it at all.
It's difficult to listen when you're talking.
In his book Wooden on Leadership with Steve Jamison, Coach comments on consistent listening leading to consistent improvement:
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.
One of the reasons it’s extremely difficult to stay at the top is because once you get there, it is so easy to stop listening and learning.
Progress is difficult when you won’t listen.
Former UCLA Head Coach Gary Cunningham, and an assistant to Coach on eight national championship teams, gives a great example of Listening Leadership:
Coach Wooden was strongly opposed, in principle, to the 3–2 zone defense—a half-court defensive system. Nevertheless, Denny Crum and I, assistant coaches, thought it could be very effective for the Bruins to install it. We recommended that he make the change. Keep in mind, at this point Coach Wooden’s teams had just won five national championships in six years. He could easily have taken the position that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. However, Coach was always willing to listen, to evaluate new ideas, to seek ways to improve our team. He was never satisfied—never satisfied. So, despite the fact that UCLA was undefeated at that point in the season, 20–0, Denny and I convinced him to install the 3–2 zone defense for a series up at Oregon. UCLA won the first game against the University of Oregon, 75–58, but the next night, using the same 3–2 zone against Oregon State, we were beaten, 78–65. It was apparent the new system wasn’t all we thought it might be. That was the last time we brought up the 3–2 zone defense. But Coach Wooden had listened and given it—and us—a chance. He wasn’t afraid to make a change. And when it didn’t work, there were no recriminations. He moved on without making us feel we had led him down the wrong path.
Coach’s advice is simple and direct:
Yours in Coaching,
For more information visit www.woodenswisdom.com
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