What John Maxwell Learned from John Wooden
John Maxwell said, “As a young leader … I was always in a hurry. I gave a lot of directions and asked very few questions… I was often wrong but seldom in doubt.”
Humility asks; arrogance knows.
The best leaders learn from the best leaders.
Maxwell said he was fortunate to, “sit at the feet of John Wooden.” During one of their lunches, Coach Wooden made an off handed comment about asking himself one question everyday.
I asked Facebook fans:
One question leaders could ask themselves every day is ________.
- Why am I doing this?
- Do I have clarity?
- How can I become better?
- What should I stop, start, and keep doing?
- How am I serving?
- What am I grateful for today?
- Did I help or did I hinder?
See more on the Leadership Coffee Shop on Facebook.
What was the question John Wooden asked himself everyday?
“How can I make the team better?”
Maxwell said that it wasn’t so much the question itself as the practice of asking himself questions that had the biggest impact.
Maxwell’s new book, “Good Leaders Ask Great Question,” has a chapter titled, “What Questions Do I Ask Myself as a Leader.”
4 of Maxwell’s 7 questions:
- Am I investing in myself?
- Am I genuinely interested in others?
- Am I adding value to my team?
- Am I investing my time with the right people?
Read more questions in Maxwell’s new book, “Good Leaders ask Great Questions.”
Maxwell in his own words (2:41):
Questions aid self-reflection.
What useful questions might leaders ask themselves?
Dan, a question I ask of myself often and pose to my executive coaching clients is, “What if I’m not as good of a leader as I think I am?” Of course, the question needs to be asked in a constructive way that inspires us to learn, grow and improve.
Thanks Alan. Any question that creates instability is an open door if the environment is safe and the motivations are noble.
These 2 are the main ones for me:
Am I investing in myself?
Am I genuinely interested in others?
I love your articles 🙂
Thanks style…. I think the “am I genuinely interested in others,” is powerful. It can be easy to get so busy doing stuff that you forget the people.
More than asking questions, what I like most about the post is the ability of Leaders to learn from other Leaders. A good Leader has a keen sense of observation and converts what he sees in to an opportunity if there is potential. Aiding him is the process of asking questions. I may add –
1. Am I adding value to the development of my team?
2. Am I an enabler where teams are allowed to experiment, seek out, challenge and innovate?
Thanks P G. Isn’t it great that we have the opportunity to learn simply by watching people.
Great stuff. These are the sort of things you need to keep in mind. Most of the time, the working day is when you’re up to your ass in alligators, and it’s hard to remember you’re there to drain the swamp.
Thanks Mitch. That’s a vivid image!
some of those questions require us to be courageous when we answer. it’s easy to think everything we do is proper, but it requires honest thought and introspection.
Thanks billgncs. Ouch! 🙂
they said it centuries before me – about the examined life…. but certainly we need to ask ourselves the “am I part of the problem or part of the solution” from time to time.
I liked Maxwell’s reference to: Experience and what did I learn from the experience? Something we all need to ask ourselves on a regular basis.
That hit’s home for me as I have used life’s experiences as a gauge to some extent with learning and planning future projects. Looking at the good and bad with unbiased eyes, compensate with the acceptable and reach out for a solution.
Thanks Tim. I really liked “what do you love?” And, “What did you learn?” It’s simple and useful.
Dan, I enjoy Maxwell and love Wooden and have a friend that was very close to coach Wooden (Dale Brown, former LSU BB coach) and he has shared many conversations between them. I believe in their core beliefs about leadership and people and being real and relational and focusing on being transformational and not simply transactional. The big gap here is that while your readers love this and it empowers them, they are mostly at the whims of the type of leaders that will not pick up a Maxwell or Wooden book and continue to lead with reckless abandon and love the tag line that “hey, don’t take it personal, it’s just business”. Corporate America does not embrace a senior leader that leads with their head and their heart sadly (leave the heart at home with the children), and that is why we need a leadership revolution. Many people talk about talking about leadership, but they have no intentions of taking the risks that great leaders take, and that is to be real and open and authentic. Of course all is not lost, but too many up and coming leaders are forced to give in to continue their growth. That would be a topic to discuss.
Great points! Thanks for the audio clip too. Even more impactful. I started following the Leadership Coffee Shop as a result.
Thank you, that was a good reminder that leaders need to be humble enough to care what people are thinking… to show that their thoughts are not the ONLY thoughts. I call it “passing the ego” – that is a sign of true servanthood and others become loyal to those who are humble enough to be enlightened by them. It’s also a sign if courage. We all trust leaders more who possess the attributes of courage and humility.
I lost my father very early in life but one of the things I valued the most is all the advice he gave me and one of them was to never be afraid of asking questions. You become a great Leader, when helping others become a priority. I asked myself all the time: “Can I help change any situation for good to anyone today.”
Just finished listening to the recording between you and John at the end.
‘Evaluate your experience.’
That sentence stood out for me the most out of the whole conversation.
It’s the most important thing we can do, and yet how often are we conditioned to judge ourselves before we even get started?
i.e. What if we aren’t truly happy with something? If we ALLOW ourselves to know that we really feel that way, we’d have to do something about it…or at least have to take at least partial responsibility for choosing to remain in situations we don’t like, right?
Part of this goes against the positive ‘pop’ psychology you may have seen or heard me ‘harp’ on here and there. If we’re constantly trying to think positive, feel positive, be positive all of the time…then where is there any room for experiencing, thinking, feeling the negative? People are easily slipping into judging themselves for NOT being positive before they can even evaluate it. It’s ‘I better jump deny my reality and jump straight into positive mode here!”
Well…we can’t really do that. It doesn’t really go away.
Evaluating our experience is taking an honest inventory of the ‘truth’ of our experience. Including negative thoughts and feelings. Otherwise, we are pretending. And we can’t make changes for the better if we have to keep pretending.
Thanks for sharing Dan.
Dan, another awesome post. Whatever questions we as leaders ask ourselves every day I agree 100% it’s the habit of questioning oneself that is surely the key? A thread in your posts recently I note. I ‘lead’ 6000 people and most days its hectic, however the one discipline that has started to make a real difference to me is the ability to say ‘no’ whilst reflecting in action (introverting) and actively listening to others. As an A typical extroverted pref this is unlocking engagement opportunities all over the place.
At a recent promotion interview last week a candidate captured our cultural challenge perfectly when he used the phrase ‘valuing difference here needs to move from demographics to the diversity of thoughts and opinions’ .
Only by questioning our own thoughts opinions and beliefs will we ever truly start to value other peoples.
Thanks Andy. It’s wonderful to hear your story and application of the idea of questioning ourselves. I’m coming to the conclusion that the ability to question ourselves confidently is one of the most important things about us. When I say “confidently” I mean question and still moving forward. Question ourselves because a problem when it turns into constant second guessing.
I can see where healthy self-questioning is rooted in valuing others. Powerful.