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Issue 280 - Attention to Detail without Micro Managing

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 6 Issue 280
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



John Wooden was famous for his attention to detail. Pat Williams wrote a great book on the topic entitled Coach Wooden's Greatest Secret: The Power of a Lot of Little Things Done Well.
In spite of his attention to detail and insistence that all the little things were done correctly, Coach Wooden was never regarded as a micromanager. How did he do that?
Like almost all things related to John Wooden, the answer can be found in his two favorite words: Love and Balance.
His attitude of love translated into consideration of others which led him to be open minded and facilitate feedback. Balance led him to not get so carried away with the input of others that he failed to do what he believed was best.
Coach accomplished this by organizing the details of getting input in the same way he demanded the details of proper execution of fundamentals.
Getting feedback was not left to chance with John Wooden. As a result, feedback did not occur in response to a crisis but rather as part of proper planning.
The coaching staff met every day from 10 AM to12 Noon during the season to plan that day's practice. Coach Wooden was insistent that his assistants provide alternative views to his. He then demanded they explain and defend their alternate plans. Coach would then make the final decision on what to do and then was insistent that the details be carried out with a unified front.
Immediately after practice in the Coaches locker room, Coach would debrief the practice with his staff and once again was insistent they provide input as to what worked and what didn’t.
If Coach implemented the idea of an assistant coach and it did not work, he never assigned blame or brought up the failure later. If the recommendation worked, he gave the credit to the assistant.
Players encountered the same balance from Coach. They knew during practice they would have to execute the details properly. They also knew they were free to discuss anything with Coach during his office hours (except 10 to 12) and that he would be sitting courtside a half hour early (2:30 promptly) every day before practice, specifically to be available for them to talk to.
Too often managers or coaches fall into the trap of being classified as a micro manager/great disciplinarian or a player’s coach.
Coach Wooden avoided this trap by implementing a system that scheduled and demanded feedback with the same attention to detail that he insisted on with regards to the proper execution of all fundamentals,
When people are executing details that they understand and have the ability to have feedback about, they don’t feel like they are being micromanaged. They feel as if they are doing something important!
Do you plan how you’re going to get feedback with the same detail and enthusiasm that you plan what you want others to do?
It’s all about love and balance.

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




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Application Exercise




True worth is in being, not seeming,-
In doing, each day that goes by,
Some little good-not in dreaming
Of great things to do by and by.
For whatever men say in their blindness,
And spite of the fancies of youth,
There’s nothing so kingly as kindness,
And nothing so royal as truth.

We get back our meet as we measure-
We cannot do wrong and feel right,
Nor can we give pain and gain pleasure,
For justice avenges each slight.
The air for the wing of the sparrow,
The bush for the robin and wren,
But always the path that is narrow
And straight, for the children of men.

‘Tis not in the pages of story
The heart of its ills to begulie,
Though he who makes courtship to glory
Gives all that he hath for her smile.
For when from her heights he has won her,
Alas it is only to prove
That nothing’s so sacred as honor,
And nothing so loyal as love!

We cannot make bargains for blisses,
Nor catch them like fishes in nets;
And sometimes the thing our life misses
Helps more than the thing which it gets.
For good lieth not in pursuing,
Nor gaining of great nor of small,
But just in the doing, and doing
As we would be done by, is all.

Through envy, through malice, through hating,
Against the world , early and late,
no jot of our courage abating-
Our part is to work and wait.
And slight is the sting of his trouble
Whose winnings are less than his worth;
For he who is honest and noble,
Whatever his fortunes or birth.

Alice Cary (1820 – 1871)






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