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Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  3,184 ratings  ·  161 reviews
A Wall Street Journal Bestseller

A compelling look inside the mind and powerful leadership methods of America's coaching legend, John Wooden

"Team spirit, loyalty, enthusiasm, determination. . . . Acquire and keep these traits and success should follow."
--Coach John Wooden

John Wooden's goal in 41 years of coaching never changed; namely, to get maximum effort and peak perfor
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 26th 2005 by McGraw-Hill Education (first published January 1st 2005)
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4.38  · 
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 ·  3,184 ratings  ·  161 reviews

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Oct 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: again-and-again, 2009
I've heard of John Wooden most of my life, but hadn't really studied this remarkable man/coach until I read this autobiography. His midwestern modesty coupled with his drive for constant improvement set this teacher apart. Among the many lessons I gleaned from this book:

1) Those who weaken themselves physically often fall prey to an assortment of lapses in the area of good judgement. p.44

2) Managing egos--the over- and under-inflated, the forceful and the fragile--is one of the great challenges
Jan 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Wooden seems almost too good to be true, even Ghandi's and King's lives were tarnished with some human failings. Perhaps because it was a book about Leadership and not an autobiography, he paints himself as an icon of purity. Wooden's concepts helped me to teach the high school athletes under my guidance with his strict behavioral expectations, but I mix in a bit more leniency. Some of his phrases are fun to quote to the students and they respond well to the pyramid of success Wooden developed. ...more
Mindaugas Mozūras
An incredible book on Leadership. I absolutely relished it. "Wooden on Leadership" will become my go-to suggestion to answer the question "What is Leadership?". The only thing I was a little wary about is Pyramid of Success, it felt showy. But it's does not take away for me from the whole - an inspiring work by an incredible teacher.
Jerry Fultz
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is without equal - perhaps the best book on leadership I think I've ever read. I give it my highest recommendation.

From the pyramid of success to the lessons in leadership, the book is infused with the daily "blocking-and-tackling" necessary to transform principles into lifestyle practices.

It's hard for me to imagine a more comprehensive, practical guide to leading teams. It's brilliance is in it's simplicity and common sense. The definition of success offered in this book is refreshi
Nov 03, 2009 rated it liked it
John Wooden is a college basketball coaching legend, so i was interested in his leadership methods. over his many years of coaching, he developed an extremely detailed system for molding young men into championship teams. clearly he put a lot of work and thought into the system, but in the end i did not sense that this approach was very applicable to business world situations. the coach's many examples of dealing with great players and outsized personalities were instructive as were his basic pr ...more
Omar Halabieh
Sep 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In this book, coach John Wooden - one of the most successful basketball coaches of all times - shares with his readers the leadership framework that he has developed and used through the years. The books is divided intro three sections, the first presents and explains John's foundation of leadership, the pyramid of success. The framework, illustrated below, is composed of a number of qualities that build on each other and serve as reinforcement to achieve "competitive greatness". These include a ...more
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal read! I'd recommend it for every leader to read. I'm not into basketball much -nor am I knowledgeable about the sport , but I am into great leaders, and thus I picked up this book. You don't have to be into basketball to get amazing value out of this book. You don't even have to be into sports. If you're into leadership and want to hear what works from the best leader any sport has ever seen , give this book a read! Coach Wooden is simply the best.
Doug Fischer
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great book! It's pretty simple and straightforward, but a lot of gold in here. I've been coaching for about 6 years now, so some of it I had already learned/practiced, however he approaches coaching in a different way than most and undoubtedly taught me a lot.
Bill Pence
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ve long respected John Wooden for the values he brought to leadership as one of the greatest coaches of all time. For example, over a twelve-year period at UCLA, Wooden won an incredible ten NCAA national basketball championships, including a record seven in a row. I’ve rarely highlighted as many passages in a book as I did with this one.
The book is divided into three main sections:
Part 1: The Foundation for My Leadership. In this section he covers the 15 fundamental values that were the blo
I'm a big admirer of Coach Wooden and his philosophy-that team trumps all, and greatest is measured in maximizing one's potential in service of something greater. He eschews the current idolatry of winning is everything and personal status is the measure of a persons worth. His Pyramid of Success is a powerful representation of how a person can lead a courageous and "successful" life. He stress the importance of fundamentals, contentiousness, humility, friendship, and striving for perfection. I' ...more
Jun 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
We live in a time where we, society, are acutely aware of the issues that confront human existence. Cancer, AIDS, war, global warming, getting the IT guy to fix my computer and more, are problems we face today, and, if not dealt with now, tomorrow.

It is not in haste to say that we cannot conquer these obstacles alone; it will require the input and work from people around the world. But who will lead these communities, local and global? Who will unite (wo)men of all stripes to act forcefully as
Clif Brittain
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It may seem corny, but...

Truer words were never spoken. I hate basketball, but relish this book. One word that is not mentioned in the book is mindfulness, but I think that is the essence of his program. Every moment treasured, every action intended. There is no shame in not achieving, simply a resolution to do better.

As I reflect on valued leaders in my past, the good ones were most like his teachings and the worst ones most unlike. This is a truly inspiring book.
Douglas Wilson
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very fine book on leadership. Really good.
Drake Hyman
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Despite being so heavy-laden with tactics and strategies for basketball, I found this book to be valuable for understanding what it takes to lead a team. Coach Wooden models consistency, integrity, honesty, hard work, character, camaraderie, discipline, inclusion and self-actualization. His method for leading focuses on a person's individual potential for greatness, rather than comparing it to the world's expectations or demands. He had high expectations for his teams, but not so that they would ...more
Juan Chavez
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
Exceptional book on leadership. As a basketball coach, i could relate to alot of what coach Wooden talked about in this book. I enjoyed the tone of the book that was very much in his voice. I enjoyed the fact he included some of his mistakes and failures.
Some awesome points from the book:

1-When i am through learning, I am through
2-Condition your team to love the struggle
3-Competitive greatness is not defined in victory or denied in defeat. It exists in the effort that proceeded.
4-I love all m
Craig Childs
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Probably the best leadership book I’ve read.
Coach Wooden’s straight forward leadership philosophy is close to what I consider the ideal ; that the best leaders are teachers.
The book is a joy to read and filled with sage life and leadership advice. He is a meticulous thinker; quite an impressive man. His rule is simple- you have been successful if you have done your best. The scoreboard is only secondary. Only you can determine success because only you know if you have given your best effort. So
LilyKat Linville
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: junior-year
3.5 Stars.

I really did enjoy this book, but it really wasn’t my style. My brother had recommended that I read it, so I thought I would give it a try and I’m glad I did.

What I enjoyed: it was about basketball, which is my all time favorite sport. It felt personal, and it was just a fun book that had a lot of information.

What I disliked: its nonfiction - not my thing. I couldn’t read his handwriting at some points, and it felt really prideful sometimes. Pride in sports is not a bad thing, but I do
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There are not enough stars for this book. Yes a lot of it is common sense, yes a lot of it is not new but what makes it great is the consistency of philosophy and personality through this book. You know John Wooden lived all these principles daily and the book is as if he were standing next to you. I always struggle taking advice from sports book in to the real world as the principles are frequently not transferable or as effective outside the sports arena- but there is plenty of good advice if ...more
Erik Goodin
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is incredible. There are a lot of books that I read and think I should read it over again sometime for all the information to sink in. But this is one of the few books that I am excited about reading over again.

Wooden's insight on leadership and how to manage a team (whether it be in sports, business, friends and family) is profound and I can truly say this book has made me a better leader.

Highly recommended for anyone who wants to improve their skills of dealing with people and also l
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
John Wooden was born on his parent’s farm near Centerville, Indiana. The farm did not have running water or electricity. Another problem was that his parents were poor and his family lost the farm. The family moved to a small town called Martinsville, Indiana. There Wooden became a star basketball player and led his team to three state championships and won two of them. While attending high school he met his wife Nellie Riley. The two decided to get married right after college. Wooden went to Pu ...more
Joshua Ankney
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Good book by one of the greatest coaches of all time. He challenges the notion that winning is everything and most definitely disagrees with Ricky Bobby's philosophy of "If you ain't first, you're last." The notion that giving your best is the definition of success has challenged my world view and helped me see life differently. Would recommend to anyone who coaches youth athletics, or wants a different view on competition.
Okechukwu Ihenacho
One of the greatest books on leadership

John Wooden needs no introduction. His accomplishments speak for themselves, however, it is important to understand his philosophy, his fundamental understanding of leadership and how he applied it in creating perhaps the most successful college sports program in history. I learned a lot from this book. It is a perennial read. The lessons learned can be applied in all walks of life and all levels of leadership.
Billy Eshleman
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
John Wooden's thoughts on leadership are insightful and inspiring, and this is worth reading for anyone involved in any form of leadership, whether that be teaching, business, or otherwise. Will definitely come back to this in the future to review and reflect upon my own experiences in leadership and working with others!
Wally Bock
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

My full review is at
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the greatest books that I have read on the topic of Leadership. Some of the things mentioned in this book and so basic and elementary that even a second grader "knows" it. But that's the beauty of this book. It teaches you that some things are simply non-negotiable. Its also written in a very neat, engaging and easy to follow manner.
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's been too long since I have read this book to give an in-depth review, but I know I loved it and I love Coach Wooden. He is just a wonderful man with great advice. I hope to reread it at least once more in my life. I highly recommend it to every coach or anyone else in a leadership position. Just wonderful!
Peter Kauffmann
Dec 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: bwsc-book-club
He's got some good stories to tell, and the practices he espouses all sound good, but he gets repetitive with presenting some of the themes. My favorite part was the "endorsements" from former players - those stories seemed more relatable and implementable.

Really looking forward to reading books that aren't all about Leadership and Values and whatever, though.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it liked it
When I read this in 2005 I liked it a fair amount, but in retrospect I am a lot more skeptical.

I think I've become disenchanted with "leadership books" from famous people, and to be frank, they are mostly a way for people to cash in on being famous.

Still, they are some nice things in here, about the importance of values and culture and winning the right way.
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help
This book started out very good, the leadership pyramid is awesome and I thoroughly enjoyed this section. However, I found once I got past this point that it felt a little strained, like we were getting little pebbles that weren't very profound, much less profound than the beginning third of the book. A good read with lots of good information, but it seems they were packed into the beginning.
Matt Wester
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic Wooden

Loved this book. I’ve read many of his and this might be my favorite. There’s nothing really new in it. Wooden on Leadership was the right book at the right time for me.
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John Robert Wooden is a retired American basketball coach. He is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player (class of 1961) and as a coach (class of 1973). He was the first person ever enshrined in both categories; only Lenny Wilkens and Bill Sharman have since been so honored. His 10 NCAA National Championships in a 12 year period while at UCLA are unmatched by any other college bas ...more
“You are not a failure until you start blaming others for your mistakes” 45 likes
“Little things make the big things happen” 10 likes
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