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effective listening effective leadership

You must listen to others if you want others to listen to you. This idea reflects the way that Coach Wooden chose to interact with other people. He was an extraordinary listener, in part because he knew each time he listened he would learn something.

A wise old owl sat in an oak,
The more he heard, the less he spoke,
The less he spoke, the more he heard,
Now, wasn’t he a wise old bird?

Coach believed effective leadership started with effective listening. In Wooden on Leadership, he put it this way:

In my opinion, being an effective leader—one who can build a winning organization—requires being an effective listener.

The most productive leaders are usually those who are consistently willing to listen and learn. Perhaps it stems from their understanding that success is more often attained by asking how than by saying no.

Coach also believed the key to maintaining success was continuing to listen after you become successful. He summed it up this way:

It is very easy to get comfortable in a position of leadership, to believe that you’ve got all the answers, especially when you begin to enjoy some success.

People start telling you that you’re the smartest one around. That’s one of the reasons it’s extremely difficult to stay at the top—because once you get there, it is so easy to stop listening and learning.

Coach liked to say, “When you’re through learning, you’re through.”

And when you’re through listening, you’re through learning.

Related: It’s What You Learn After You Know It All That Counts

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Craig Impelman
As Coach Wooden’s grandson-in-law, Craig Impelman had the opportunity to learn Coach’s teachings firsthand and wrote about those lessons for his site, He is a motivational speaker and the author of Wooden’s Wisdom, a weekly “e-coaching module” that is distributed to companies nationally.