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8 Keys to Coach John Wooden’s Servant Leadership

Coach Wooden's record as a servant leader remains undefeated. Yours can, too, if you emulate these qualities of the legend himself


The following is an excerpt from Lynn Guerin and Jason Lavin’s Coach ‘Em Way Up: 5 Lessons for Leading the John Wooden Way, out now from Entrepreneur Press. Purchase it via Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop | Entrepreneur Press.

***In the spirit of this year’s NCAA tournament, you can purchase Coach ‘Em Way Up — print or eBook edition — for 25% off by using the discount code COACH at checkout when you order it here between now and April 10.

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden had what he called an “MBA”: a mop-and-bucket attitude. In other words, he believed in doing the hard work necessary to help everyone in his organization succeed. If a floor needed cleaning, clean it. If a trash can needed emptying, empty it — no matter what your offiial job title says.

Coach never left a locker room not picked up. He didn’t want anyone to be relying on the assistants to pick up after them or think he was asking them to do something he would not do himself. It was entirely possible that, before he picked up the locker room, he had walked into the shower in his suit and tie, picked the soap off the floor and put it in the dish. He would keep doing that until his players said, “Oh!” and did it themselves without asking. He wanted his kids to take pride in where they worked the way he took pride in it. He took as much — more — satisfaction in letters he would get from custodians at other colleges about how incredibly his team behaved as he did in a victory.

Coach Wooden’s record as a servant leader remains undefeated. Yours can, too, if you emulate these eight qualities of the legend himself.

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