Coach K on Leadership

Earlier this year, Sports Business Daily sat down with Mike Krzyzewski, Head Coach of the Duke Blue Devils basketball team, to get his thoughts on leadership. Coach K, as he is known, has won more college basketball games than any coach in men’s basketball history. So what are some of his keys to success:

Analysis – “I think part of being successful is the analysis, like an after-action report, quickly about what’s been done. And then you move on,” Krzyzewski said.
My thoughts: As leaders, we need to encourage our teams to gather the information that is available to them and then use the information to make more effective decisions. We will have more confidence in decisions when they are based on accurate information. Through analysis, we can make better decisions and make them more confidently and quickly.

Leadership Evolves – Coach K told the Sports Business Daily, “It’s constantly changing. For any leader, it has to constantly evolve because society is evolving. Cultures change, who you’re trying to lead is different.”
My thoughts: It’s been said that the only constant in life is change. And this is certainly true. Having the flexibility to change, to adapt, to evolve, is one of the critical characteristics of an effective leader. If you are not flexible, how can you expect your team to be. If your team is not flexible, truly sustainable success will be extremely difficult. The environment will change and your organization will be left behind.

Trust and Belonging – “People still want to trust, they want to believe, they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, they want to be loyal.”
My thoughts: If we are trying to build a team, we should remember that most people want to be part of a team; they want to belong. People want to trust and also to be trusted. So be inclusive as a leader. Show others that you value their opinions and appreciate having them on your team. Trust them and be a leader they can trust.

Learning – “There’s always something to learn. To think otherwise would be arrogant and narrow-minded, and not very smart.”
My thoughts: Continuous learning is important for sustaining our success and the success of our organizations. Because leadership is constantly changing, we must be constantly learning. What can we do to learn? Read books, talk to experts, study the competition, conduct research and analysis. If the winningest college basketball coach of all time feels there is more to learn, then certainly, there is more for us to learn as well.

Recruiting – “You want to recruit not just talent, but you want to recruit character. Part of character is understanding there’s a teacher and you respect the teaching, you respect the leadership and that you’re part of something bigger than you.”
My thoughts: It’s easy to become enamored with the talented candidate who can get the job done. But don’t forget to look at the character. If you find a talented individual with questionable character, keep looking. Press on until you find talent and character. People with character respect the team, the organization, and their role within the organization. They do the right thing all the time. They can be counted on when times get tough. These are the people you want next to you when you face a significant challenge.

Some great thoughts from a very effective leader – analyze, have the flexibility to change, make people feel valued and trusted, learn continuously, and recruit character. I hope these ideas help you to think about your team and to discover ways to improve your organization.

Thanks for reading,


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