Tony DeMeo

The Wizard of Oz Rule

Coaches, the following is a short excerpt from my new book: Common Sense Rules for Everyday Leaders that is due to be published at the end of the month. It will feature close to 100 of these types of rules that every leader can find helpful. Signed copies will be available on my website.

The Wizard of Oz Rule
“Oz never gave nothing to the Tin Man” America

The Wizard of Oz is a famous movie that came out in 1939 starring Judy Garland. It was based on the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum. It’s the story of a young girl from Kansas and her dog Toto that go on a magical mystical journey. On her journey she encounters good witches, wicked witches and a wide assortment of characters. She befriends a Scarecrow looking for a brain, a Cowardly lion looking for courage, and a Tin Man looking for a heart. Dorothy is merely looking for a way home back to Kansas and Auntie Em.

It seems like the one and only one who can provide these things for the group is the mighty and all-powerful Wizard of Oz. So they set out to meet with The Wizard. As they encounter dangers along the way, they actually show the very qualities that they are going to The Wizard to receive.
When they reach The Wizard it seems he’s not at all what they expected. Instead of an all-powerful Wizard, he’s just a little old guy behind a curtain with a lot of smoke and mirrors. But the old con man/wizard gives the Tin Man, the Lion and the Scarecrow exactly what the desired. As for Dorothy a click of her magic shoes and she was back in her beloved Kansas.

Many years later a song by the group America declared “Oz never gave nothing to the Tin Man that he didn’t already have.” Did he or didn’t he? That is the question. Does any coach or leader ever give someone something he doesn’t already have? Does a coach or a teacher ever give something to their Tin Man? Or is that mentor just some old guy hanging around behind a screen of PhD degrees and a lot of psycho-babble?

The role of a leader is to guide his followers to find the way of reaching their potential. The role of the leader is to develop each and every member of the organization to maximize their potential. By making each member of the organization stronger, the organization gets stronger.
So back to the Wizard; did he actually help the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow? Did he impart courage to the Lion, Wisdom to the Scarecrow and give the Tin Man a heart? Did Phil Jackson make Michael Jordan a great basketball player? Did Bill Walsh make Joe Montana the best quarterback in the NFL? The answer is they all gave the one ingredient they all needed.

In Joe Montana’s case Walsh gave him a system to excel; the West Coast Offense. Montana was not a superstar at Notre Dame but became a legend under Walsh.

Michael Jordan was already a superstar in college and a top scorer in the NBA, what Zen-master Phil Jackson gave Mike was the gift of unselfishness and the triangle offense. By getting his teammates involved in the scoring, Jordan reached legend level by winning six NBA titles.

What the wonderful Wizard gave our three heroes was not courage, wisdom or a heart but the real thing they lacked: belief in themselves. Without that belief they never felt courageous, wise or emotional. They may have already had these qualities, but they didn’t know it. The Wizard gave them a key to unlock their potential.

So how can you be a Wizard to those you lead? Can you be just the Wizard that will thrust a follower to great achievements? Here are a few tips necessary for any aspiring Wizard:

  1. Believe in those you lead. If you don’t believe in them, they won’t believe in themselves.
  2. Know that certain people have certain talents, but everyone has value. And everyone can add value to a team. Shaquille O’Neal could never ride a Kentucky Derby winner but he certainly is a valuable asset in the right spot. Wizards know the spot.
  3. Teams get confident by working hard. Belief gets stronger when players see improvement and understand the plan. The more detailed the plan, the greater the credibility.
  4. Praise pays. Sincere, specific praise builds confidence. Let people know when they are doing it right.
  5. Review previous successful moments. Everyone has experienced success, help your team relive those moments. Play a highlight tape of the previous game prior to the upcoming game that week. Show a video of team members succeeding.
  6. Never try to take credit for a transformation. Remember they had their God-given talent before ever meeting you, and they put in the work. All you did was open a door or provide a stage. All Wizards get exposed when they try to take credit.
  7. Know your people, care about them, listen to them and try to provide the direction and guidance to become all their capable of being.

So I guess maybe the old Wizard did give something to the Tin Man after all. And you can be someone’s Wizard too if you care enough.