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“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”

Coach Wooden’s message to the players at the beginning of each UCLA season was as follows:

I will not like you all the same, but I will love you all the same. Furthermore, I will try very hard not to let my feelings interfere with my judgment of your performance. You will receive the treatment you earn and deserve.

In his book Wooden on Leadership, Coach Wooden expanded on the importance of a leader truly having love for those under his or her supervision:

A leader in sports, business or any other field of endeavor should possess and provide the same qualities inherent in a good parent: character, consistency, dependability, accountability, knowledge, good judgment, selflessness, respect, courage, discipline, fairness and structure.

And while all of these will make you a good leader, they will not make you a great leader. For that, one additional quality—perhaps the most important of all—is necessary. Although it may sound out of place in the rough-and-tumble context of sports or corporate competition, I believe you must have love in your heart for the people under your leadership.

Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. The individuals on our UCLA teams became true members of my extended family. It’s vital to let those you lead know you care.

Love is so important, because it moves you to do the right things in all areas of life, including leadership. What is love? Let me offer the following definition:

“Love is patient; love is kind. It is not jealous; it is not pompous; it is not inflated; it is not rude; it does not seek its own interest; it is not quick-tempered; it does not brood over injury; it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

These are qualities we can all use when we interact with others and, as a result, give them love.

Photo by Monkey Business Images/

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.