A word that used to be heard often, especially relating to sports, is the word poise.  Particularly in pressure situations an individual performing for a team may have been described as “keeping his or her poise, “with the result being a victory for their team.  Poise in a leader is crucial for winning.  Exactly what is meant when we talk about an individual possessing poise?  John Wooden, the late great basketball coach of the UCLA Bruins had this to say about poise.

“I define poise as being true to oneself, not getting rattled, thrown off, or unbalanced regardless of the circumstances or situation.  Poise means holding fast to your beliefs and acting in accordance with them, regardless of how bad or good the situation may be.  Poise means avoiding pose or pretense, comparing yourself to others, and acting like someone you’re not.  Poise means having a brave heart in all circumstances.  The competitive environment increasingly challenges your composure and equanimity as the stakes increase and the challenges to you and your organization mount.  Few characteristics are more valuable to a leader than Poise, especially when he or she is under pressure.  And that’s what leaders are paid to do, perform under pressure (Wooden, 2005, p.51, 52).”

Coach Wooden also said that poise is not acquired but rather poise acquires you.  It is a quality near the top of coach Wooden’s Pyramid Of Success.  You can read about how it acquires you by reading his excellent book, Wooden On Leadership, as he describes his Pyramid.

*Wooden, John,  Wooden On Leadership

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