Simple Disciplines from John Wooden

Success Requires the Clear Communicate of Expectations

Communicating expectations is the first step to achieving team success.

In “Wooden on Leadership” by John Wooden and Steve Jamison, there is a list of expectations that John provided to all his recruits upon coming to UCLA. Here is the list that John provided to his student athletes.

  1. You are in UCLA for an education. I want every boy to earn and receive his degree. Keep that first in your thoughts, but place basketball second.
  2. Do not cut classes and do be on time.
  3. Do not fall behind and do get your work in on time.
  4. Have regular study hours and keep them.
  5. Arrange with your profs in advance when you must be absent.
  6. Do not expect favors. Do your part.
  7. Boys on grant-in-aid should arrange for tutoring through the Athletic Department at the first indication of need.
  8. Work for a high grade point average. Do not be satisfied by merely meeting the eligibility requirements.
  9. Those on campus jobs for grant-in-aid must arrange to get in the required hours. Do your assignment without comparing it with that of another boy.
  10. Earn the respect of everyone, especially of yourself.

There is a lot that you and I can learn from these 10 points; lessons that we can apply to business today.


The first point of John’s list focuses on purpose. It was important to Coach Wooden that each student athlete understood that they were there for an education. For today’s business, this is equivalent to knowing why your organization exists; it’s purpose. While that may seem like an easy question to answer, don’t be too quick to answer.


Points 2, 3, and 7 in John’s list focus on accountability. As leaders and team members, we must be accountable for our own performance. We should be on-time with our participation and when meeting our obligations. Being late for work, meetings, and other responsibilities builds inefficiencies in the organisation, not only for us, but also for all those around us. If we see trouble on the horizon, it is our responsibility to seek help.


Points 4 and 5 are about planning our time effectively. This is more than simple time management. This is about priority management. If you only show in your calendar when you have meetings, then you are not planning your time and priorities effectively. You have to also plan time to get YOUR responsibilities done. This means planning time to be alone for reflection, and developing new strategies for your team and organization. If you don’t plan time for these activities, they will get squeezed out by all the people knocking on your door.


Each of us should work at our highest ability. In points 6, 8, 9 and 10, John is talking about giving all we have to make the organization successful. When we need help, ask. When we can help, help. We should set our standards high and give our best every day. We should never be content with giving the least just to get by, or do enough to be better than others on the team. Give the best that you have every day. That is real success.

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result o self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.

~ John Wooden

What are your thoughts on applying John’s 10 points to your work environment? I would like to hear your comments.

Are You Ready to Lead? 4 Questions to Ask…

Leadership is not about position…

Leadership is about adding value to others. How can we make sure that we have something to give? After all, we cannot give what we do not have.

In “Developing the Leaders Around You,” Dr. John C. Maxwell presents a series of questions that followers ask of their leader. These same questions should be used by the aspiring leader to make sure that they are developing themselves to have something to give. See how you are doing in each of these areas.

How is your character?

Does your life model the behaviors and character that you want in your team? Do these behaviors and characteristics show the type of character that others would admire? Study after study show that integrity is critical for the leader to succeed. Do you think that a follower would want to be like you? We attract people who are like us, not like those we want. So if you are having trouble attracting the kind of people you want on your team, take a look in the mirror. If there areas in your character that need to be shored up, start there.

If a man’s associates find him guilty of being phony, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail.–Dwight D. Eisenhower

Are you influencing others?

Remember, leadership is not about position. You don’t need an official position to be a leader, because leadership at is most basic element is influence. That being said, people may want to see that others are following you before they sign on. And remember that people buy into the leader before they buy into the leader’s vision. This is not a chicken-and-egg issue. If you have integrity and strengths others admire, you will begin to gain followers. Then others will gravitate toward you. To get those initial followers, you have to show that there is value in following your lead.

He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.–Leadership Proverb

What do you have to give?

What are your strengths? People will not follow you long if you don’t have something to give. Examine your life and ask what strengths you have. Ask some others for their input. Are you good at leading a diverse team? Do you have the ability to see the big picture? Are you able to provide good insight in difficult situations? Perhaps one of the biggest questions of all is, are you still growing? Focus on developing your areas of strength so others will see those areas and seek you out.

What is your track record?

Have you developed other leaders? People who want to develop into leaders themselves are looking for leaders that have a track record of developing others into leaders.

Those closest to the leader will determine the level of success for that leader.–John C. Maxwell

If you haven’t developed some of your current team members into leaders, what are you waiting for? Good leaders develop leaders. Spend some time focusing on those in your team that want to develop into leaders. Understand their drives. Then work together on a development plan to help them become an even better leader than you!

The true measure of a leader is not found in accomplishments for themselves, but in the success the individuals and teams that he or she leads!