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Wooden on Leadership by John Wooden

Wooden on Leadership by John Wooden

A fantastic book to read while locked down amid this coronavirus pandemic is Wooden on Leadership by the legendary John Wooden, who led UCLA basketball team from obscurity to win 10 NCAA national college basketball championships in 12 years.

It might not, on the surface, seem like a book for fund managers, but it contains great lessons.

The book is essentially about building a successful team and is relevant both to general and investment management.

The two main points for me are enshrined in two chapter titles: ‘Good values attract good people’ and ‘Little things make big things happen’.

Mr Wooden always looked for the right sort of character when selecting people to join him, both as players and coaching staff. He wanted people who were happy for others to take the credit and more concerned with team success than personal success.

For him, high performance was achieved only through the identification and perfection of small but relevant details – little things done well.

He amazed his own staff and external observers through being unconcerned about the results of games but very concerned whether the team performed to the best of its ability.

This latter principle has similarities with the Benjamin Graham concept of focusing on the underlying business progress rather than the performance of the share price, which is very important currently as markets have tumbled around the world.

From an investment management perspective, understanding the characters of the people involved in a business and the related culture is vital to the investment process and this book provides many pointers as to what we fund managers should be looking for.

Michael Crawford is the chief investment officer for Chawton Global Investors