Leadership crisis — inspiration from UCLA’s legendary Coach John Wooden — how it’s possible for a mere care-taking manager to become a true leader.


Published reports in Google News are an eye-opener. If you Google “leadership crisis,” you’ll usually see more than 600-million search results.

If you enter the key words, “management crisis,” you’ll probably see about the same number of search results. These figures can vary, but you get the idea.

But it’s important to understand the differences between the two. Certainly, legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden (Oct. 14, 1910 to June 4, 2010) understood.

John Wooden, the legend

To use a sports analogy, if you read the words of Coach Wooden, you’ll remember why he was widely known as a leader. Why?

Mr. Wooden is remembered for his development of players at UCLA. His Bruin teams were unstoppable in winning 10 NCAA championships, as well as reigning as No. 1 for 7 consecutive years.

Moreover, he developed character in his players.

Without question, he was one of the most-revered coaches in history, but he was always a leader. He was a champion as a player starting in his teenage years — first in high school and then in college — and as the most-successful college basketball coach ever. It’s worth taking a few moments to read his impressive bio.

“Never mistake activity for achievement.”

–John Wooden

He conveyed wisdom very succinctly: “Never mistake activity for achievement,” he once said.

Therefore, to expand on his philosophy, the crises in leadership stems from these four factors:

  1. The inability for professionals to stay current amid mega growth in complexity throughout business and society in general.
  2. Not enough managers learn how to become leaders.
  3. The retirements of baby boomers.
  4. The stunning number of narcissistic egos and resulting lack of self-awareness in professionals.

We can continue to underscore the need for growth in many professionals. But there seems to be some confusion in understanding the difference between leadership and management — particularly, if a manager wants to aspire to leadership in management to enable an organization to become great.

Coaches aren’t just coaches, and Mr. Wooden wasn’t just a coach. He won games and inspired his players to better themselves in every facet of their lives.

He showed us with effort, managers can also display leadership qualities. Conversely, leaders are definitely great managers. But countless news accounts show that some so-called leaders don’t manage and many managers don’t provide leadership.

So, my sense is that it’s important to develop a balance sheet – there are basic differences between the two.

… it’s important to develop a balance sheet – there are basic differences between the two.

In essence, here’s the salient distinction: It boils down to how professionals inspire their staffs and other stakeholders. The goal here is to point out how a mere care-taking manager can become great to benefit the overall welfare of the organization.

Consider these checklists:

Attributes of a manager:

1. Administrates

2. Accepts the status quo

3. Pragmatic in accepting trends and events, but goes no further

4. Focus is on control, structure and systems

5. Has a linear perspective – only follows what’s at the end of her/his nose

6. Asks a limited set of questions – just how or when?

7. Acts like a chameleon or imitator of other managers

8. Perceives threats

9. Minimizes weaknesses

10. Manages subordinates but has few, if any, devotees

Key attributes of a leader:

1. Studies, and develops ideas and principles

2. Innovates

3. Resourceful and looks for solutions to problems

4. Empathetic with a focus on people

5. Inspires trust among stakeholders

6. Understands the big picture

7. Superior listening skills

8. Courageously challenges the state of affairs, and asks why and what can be improved

9. Looks for opportunities to develop strengths

10. Develops a following


The salient distinction between leadership and management boils down to how professionals inspire their staffs and other stakeholders. That’s the John Wooden way.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are leadership resource links:

Checklist — 10 Tips for Leadership in Business Profit — J.P. Morgan CEO and prominent Democrat Jamie Dimon says President Donald Trump’s agenda has awakened “animal spirits.” So, to capitalize on the improved economy and to dominate the competition, it will be best to create new opportunities for growth. Here’s how.

Leadership: How Leaders Employ 11 Strengths to Grow Businesses — Ascension to the C-suite doesn’t automatically qualify an executive as a leader. Leaders have 11 strengths that enable them to manage their companies for greater effectiveness and elasticity despite a fast-changing marketplace

18 Leadership Strategies to Earn Employee Respect — How to profit from good labor relations, and to leverage the perspective of employees – your company’s human capital.

10 Characteristics of a Successful CEO — These are not tactical considerations, but strategic skill sets that can be applied to any venture.

7 Tips for a Young Professional to Become a CEO — For a professional to jump to the senior-management level in the 21st century, it’s imperative to demonstrate seven core competencies. Consider them part of your personal branding for success. It starts with speaking the language of a chief executive officer, and understanding the big-picture needs of an organization to get to the top.

Home-Grown Succession Planning Helps Financial Performance — Companies that promote their chief executives from inside vis-à-vis recruiting from the outside have a much higher financial-success rate.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

-John F. Kennedy


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.