The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.
Coach Wooden felt that the qualities it took to be a great leader were the same qualities it took to be a great parent. Great parents don’t criticize each other in front of their children; great coaches don’t criticize each other in front of their players; and great managers don’t criticize each other in front of their employees.
In the book Coach Wooden’s Leadership Game Plan for Success, former UCLA Head Coach Gary Cunningham, who was John Wooden’s Assistant Coach from 1966 through 1975, described how Coach Wooden treated his assistant coaches in front of the players:
“He had us address the team before games and made sure the assistant coaches talked to the players in the huddle during time-outs. He was very inclusive and gave us both authority and respect. When we fouled up, he never criticized us in front of the team, nor would he allow the players to challenge us.”
This was the leadership style Coach learned from his father. In his book with Don Yeager, A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring, he described it this way:
“My father’s love was nowhere more apparent than in how he treated my mother. From watching the respect that they had for one another, I learned the true meaning of my father’s favorite quote: ‘The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.’ If children grow up in an atmosphere of respect and appreciation between their parents, they will conduct the relationships in their lives on similar terms. After all, our parents are almost universally the first adults with whom we have any long-term contact. Their behavior first indicates to us how people should act toward one another.”
Having learned from his father’s example, Coach created a culture where players practiced and played in an atmosphere of respect and appreciation between members of the coaching staff. They, in turn, respected each other.
Photo by @Korneevamaha/Twenty20