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Questions To John Wooden On Leadership

March 20, 2012
By ED Broderick of Todd County Central High School



Is there anything that people often “just don’t get” about leadership?

  I think so. I think the general feeling for success goes along with Mr. Webster’s definition of success which more or less defines success as the accumulation of material possessions or the attainment of power. I don’t think those necessarily indicate it, but that is what people judge and what people perceive to be success. There could be great leaders, in my opinion, that never achieve that type of recognition.

Are leaders born or made, or is there a combination of the two?

 It has to be a combination. I don’t think you can make a leader out of anybody, but I think you can improve everybody. I think they can be improved by showing them the value of responsibility and bringing it about, but you’ll find out that not all can accept it very well. But you are going to find out that many things we learn by trial and error. So I think that you can improve them, but if you say that’s teaching it, I don’t know. I think you can direct them, but the earlier you get to them in their years, the more successful it will be.

What else would it be valuable to include in this feature about you and leadership?

 Listening should be emphasized. Listening. Listening. I think parenting is the most important profession in the world, and I think in many cases parents do not listen enough to the youngsters, and the youngsters do not listen to the parents. If you expect people to listen to you, you have to listen to them. I think [listening] is something that perhaps has been overlooked in many things. A lot of people hear, but they don’t listen. So many people are trying to think of what they are going to say next, instead of listening to what the individual speaking [is saying]. I don’t think listening is stressed enough, and I think that it is so extremely important, not just for leaders but for everyone.


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