Coach John Wooden, a man I admire in both leadership and in life passed away on Friday. I wanted to share one of my favorite pearls of knowledge from him that appears in his 1997 book Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court.

Do you know the names Neville Saner, Bill Sweek or Gary Franklin?  I didn’t think so, but Wooden believes that they were as much an integral part of his championship UCLA teams as household names like Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Gail Goodrich.  Coach Wooden tells us that everyone in a team from the lowest of secretaries to the starting point guard have a role to play, and if they don’t fulfill that role, the team can never reach its full potential.

Coach says that all the members of a team have to be made to feel that their role is an important one, which it most certainly is, and that they deserve to be valued and appreciated for their integral contribution to the team.  He notes that the stars will get their recognition from other sources and can be thanked personally, but it is the proverbial little guy that you should focus on recognizing publicly. Case in point, in the press conference following the ’69 NCAA Championship game, Coach mentioned Gary Franklin’s key rebound before Kareem’s 37 points.

How have you made all the members of your team feel appreciated lately?