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Game changers

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden and Starbucks' Howard Schultz talk about a common interest: Leadership.

By Andy Serwer, managing editor
Last Updated: August 11, 2008: 9:26 AM EDT

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Howard Schultz (left) and John Wooden in Los Angeles
Coach's tips
1. Use the bench.
Wooden tells coaches at clinics that the bench - and the threat of being removed from the game - is a powerful tool. "Don't be afraid to use appropriate discipline," he says. Benching a star can have an even stronger impact.
2. Embrace eccentricity.
If you have someone on your team who, as Wooden puts it, "makes great things happen in an unconventional way," be tolerant - as long as that person is ethical and doesn't impact negatively on others.
3. Don't try to be liked.
Wooden told his players at the beginning of each season that he wasn't going to like them all the same - and didn't expect them to like him all the same. "I told them, 'I'll make mistakes, but if I make too many, they'd have nothing to worry about - I'll be fired."

(Fortune Magazine) -- There's a reason ESPN named John Wooden "coach of the century." The former UCLA men's basketball coach led his team to a record ten NCAA men's championships, a tenure that opened the door to a second career as an authority on leadership - and, now, to the creation of an award at UCLA's Anderson School of Management in his name. Fortune's Andy Serwer was on hand when the coach, 97, presented the inaugural John Wooden Global Leadership Award to Starbucks (SBUX, Fortune 500) CEO Howard Schultz, 55 (who at presstime announced plans to close hundreds of stores) - and talked with the heavy-hitters about what makes a great leader.

Fortune: Is someone born a leader, or can leadership be taught?

Wooden: In my opinion you can be taught. You have to have certain qualities that demand respect, but the things that are so important in leadership can be taught. Not everyone can be a leader, though.

F: What is the key to successful leadership?

Wooden: The leader has to command the respect of all those under his supervision - and he must be open to those under his supervision. Effective leadership means having a lot of people working toward a common goal. And when you have that with no one caring who gets the credit, you're going to accomplish a lot. If you have those just wanting the credit for themselves, you're not going to get as much accomplished.

F: What do you think, Howard?

Schultz: I would agree with that. The hardest thing about being a leader is demonstrating or showing vulnerability. And that has a lot to do with trust. The interesting thing is the similarities between sports and business. The analogies have been made many times. But [business] is a team sport, and there can be more than one leader. And when the leader demonstrates vulnerability and sensibility and brings people together, the team wins.

F: Where do leaders often fall short?

Wooden: Many leaders don't listen, and it is one of the greatest methods we have of learning. You need to listen to those under your supervision and to those who are above you. We'd all be a lot wiser if we listened more - not just hearing the words, but listening and not thinking about what we're going to say.

F: Coach, I have to ask you, are you a Starbucks fan?

Wooden: Well, as I told Mr. Schultz earlier, if he'd get some doughnuts to go with the coffee, I'd like it. [Editor's note: Starbucks sells doughnuts.]

Schultz: I want you to know that when you told me that this afternoon, I immediately called the office. And we are going to hand-deliver doughnuts to your home. And you have to stop calling me "Mr. Schultz."

To watch videos of Andy Serwer's Q&A with Schultz and Wooden, click on the links below.

Reporter associate Casey Feldman contributed to this article. To top of page

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