Tale of Two Coaches

Running Head: Tale of Two Coaches and Leadership Tale of Two Coaches and Leadership Randal J. Reutzel Grand Canyon University: LDR – 600 October 27, 2011 Abstract Coaching and leadership seem to be synonymous with each other, in that if you’re a high caliber coach you must be a great leader, how else would you have achieved your success. While coaching in the NCAA division 1 basketball the goal is to win national championships, while also being a mentor to your students.
Bobby Knight is a great basketball legend at Indiana, with a past of outrageous unacceptable behavior to the fans and to players, while also having one of the best collegiate records of all time. Coach Krzyzewski was also a great coach, was mentored by coach Knight and went on to be a legend at Duke. Coach K’s style of coaching was less dramatic and more heartfelt in his approach. Coach K’s was concerned for his player’s feelings and his style of motivating his players centered on less dramatizations on and off the court.
Both Coaches were successful; one got into the heads of its players through coercive intimidation to be the best, the other through caring, talking and high levels of trust. Which coach is best depends on whom you ask and what perspective of coaching leadership style you prefer, or it could be a generational time difference or simply opposite styles that worked and produced results. Tale of Two Coaches and Leadership Leaders through time have on many occasions aligned their leadership styles to the great coaches either in the NFL or NBA.

Does being a great coach and the techniques used by coaches translate into what leaders or managers should be leading employees by? Two great coaches with NCAA basketball championships, one mentored by the other, can have very different approaches and still get the results needed, winning seasons along with students who went on to great careers and have great respect for their mentors and coaches. Coach Bobby Knight led his teams through his relationship from a base of power. In the article from ESPN by Mike Puma, Knight was known for his tirades against players, referees and reporters as well as his brilliance to win games.
Knight led his teams with complete control and nobody was second guessing his decisions, if they did it was with great conflict. He may have wanted to resolve the conflict but it was going to be on his terms. Knight led his teams with complete control from his position as the head of the team. He demanded certain expectations and rewarded this with play time or with sharp reprimands and punishment. His style was that of a managerial role, he demanded respect in that he held the position of power and he alone would be the master of activities and routines and this would influence players and the ultimate outcome. Northouse, 2010) Coach Knight led his teams with a history of demanding on others what he could not accomplish as a player. He developed a pattern of coercion that was demonstrated even off the court, by assaulting police during the Pan Am games or throwing chairs across courts. (Northouse, 2010) Coach Krzyzewski or “K” led his teams through his relations from a base of personal power, with no mistake he was the head coach. Coach K was mentored as a player and assistant coach for the military under Coach Bob Knight.
Although Coach K went into the military, he was not of military mind, and this may have latter influenced his leadership traits. He dreamed of being a teacher not a military officer. (Bob Carter) What he learned from Knight was it took an unbelievable passion to be a leader, not Knights antics that put him into trouble more often than not. Coach K lead his teams and to championships through his role as a leader by inspiring and energizing the team, taking ownership in their actions. Grant Hill said coach K had a way of making people totally vested in the decision-making process, and that is what made him a great leader. Bob Carter) Traits of Coaching and Leadership Both coaches had specific traits that lead them to success, although one coach’s traits also lead to his demise while the other coach realized the passion needed and channeled his leadership spirit into more socially acceptable patterns. Coach Knight and Coach K were both intelligent and knew the intellectual structure of creating and leading great basketball teams. They demonstrated the ability to get talent and use that talent in different ways against different teams to win games and championships.
Early in both coaches careers they knew what they wanted and what careers they wanted to pursue. To get to their end means of coaching they played the sport, learned from others and when through college level training. All of the training, and along the way making mistakes, they gained the confidence within themselves and gained self-esteem and self-assurance that they could make a difference. Coach Knight was given the opportunity through the army as a coach to demonstrate his style of leadership was the correct one.
Coach K through the army was given the education, with his passion of basketball and mentoring from Coach Knight gained the self confidence to become what he wanted to be, a teacher and a coach. Determination for both coaches was that they wanted to be winners, leaders, and be a part of something great. Early in Coach Knight’s career even he stated that he only offered indentured servitude and unlimited practice. Early in Coach K’s career he was not an outstanding coach; others did believe in him and he gained self confidence with good players at Duke.
Coach K again is quoted he learned from Knight the passion and amount of preparation it takes to be successful. (Bob Carter) Integrity is the ability of a leader to live and lead with some principles and take responsibility for their actions. The ability to possess integrity should build confidence in your team. Integrity is probably where the two coaches will separate their styles of leadership. Coach Knight through the years did several things to damage that integrity, through his actions in Panama or ways he degraded assistant coaches or lecturing teams with the use of props of soiled toilet paper.
There were many times where his actions did not represent the role which he was given and he made little effort to change unless he was forced. Coach K built much of what he was on his integrity; he stuck up for his players many times. Once his team was graded by the student paper, it was the fact that the paper portrayed the players as instruments of entertainment and ego indulgence; this infuriated the coach, which he later apologized. What Coach K stood for was a caring, communication and trust within the team, and that was what he wanted for the whole student body, and why his fan base was so strong.
The last important trait style of leadership is the ability for a leader to seek out good pleasant social relationships. The leader should be thought of as friendly, outgoing, courteous, tactful and diplomatic. Coach Knight, I believe, started out his career with these traits as he had to, through time, over confidence and ego caused him to lose most of these traits. People would say if you only know him like I do, but it was reported that he was known to be rude, defiant and hostile. (Bob Carter) Coach K on the other hand was exponentially known for his trait as having social leadership skills.
He said you have to feel what your players feel in order to be a leader. A former player and now a coach Quin Snyder said that you give up ego to be a part of something special. (Bob Carter) Ego can and will get in the way of great social ability to lead a team and be a part of a team. Coach K has been and will be remember for his greatness, he possessed the most complete set of the 5 trait characteristics of a leader and it made him more accomplished and respected. Coach Knight lacked in the traits and his ego, temper, integrity came back to haunt him.
He may be remembered more for his antics on and off the court than his record wins or development of players. The Three Skills of Coaching Success The three skills that are needed for success as a leader according to our reading from Robert Katz and Michael D. Mumford are Technical, Human and Conceptual. Through the levels of management different emphasis is required from each to be a great leader. In the situation of the coaches, they needed to possess top management skills where human and conceptual skills place more important than the technical aspects of the game of basketball.
In the readings, both coaches knew the technical aspects of the game and surrounded themselves with knowledgeable assistances. Coach K’s emphasis was the human and conceptual aspects of his team and his responsibility to the school and its students. His kids needed to feel a part of something great and bigger than themselves and togetherness, this was demonstrated when coach K handed team phone numbers out and encouraged freshman to use them. (Mike Puma) Coach Knight demonstrated skills for the technical and conceptual skills; he had an ability to always figure out the best approach to win games against many different teams.
Coach Knight is on record for being the youngest coach ever to win 600 games. He struggled with the ability to work with people that did not match his style or demands of doing exactly everything his way. He continually abused players and assistant coaches, while also getting in trouble in foreign countries. Leadership Grid Comparison The leadership grid from chapter 4, developed by Robert R. Blake and Jane S. Mouton, is basically a grid of different leadership styles with the two axis x – horizontal measure is based for results and y- vertical is based on concern for people.
I believe from the reading that coach K and Knight developed strong leadership styles based on one premise for winning, or results. What they did was go about teaching and leading the teams differently to attain those results. Coach K moved his leadership style around as he needed to according to the needs of players or the team. Based on his style he concentrated his style in the middle of the road, trying to balance the need to get work done and the team needs, but he strongly styled his effort in the direction of team management by surrounding his team with committed members and built relationships of trust and respect.
Coach Knight directed his leadership style more as an authority-compliance manager. He expected things to be done his way, and everyone around him to carter to his needs, whether that was good for personal development or not. The win, and only the win, was what needed to happen and he stepped and plowed through anyone and by any controversial tirade he had to get there. He even said in an interview that if you’re being raped to lay back and enjoy it. I believe this was his way of saying to the interviewer about his tantrums – which everyone just needed to put up with him.
When he goes wild he wants to not be held responsible for his actions and for everyone to shut up. (Mike Puma) Contingency Model for Coaches The question presented: were both coaches matched to their situation based on the model developed by Fred Edward Fiedler described as the contingency mode? I think the answer is both yes and no. The styles of leadership in this model are described as being a task motivated or relationship motivated leadership. From the reading both coaches were winning coaches, they both used different approaches to get the results.
In this model Coach K was high on leader-member, but with strong tasks, and did this without enforcing his positional power. Coach K did well with this leadership style at Duke University. Coach Knight was more task structured, the requirements were clear and spelled out and Knight controlled everything around him. When things got out of his control, people and team mates suffered and things did not go well for the coach. This goes against the model in some aspects in that if you’re out of control the task relationship should work out better for this type of leader, but there are flaws in the model.
This works well for someone with specific tasks like fixing a part or cleaning a sink. In the situation of coach Knight it was more ambiguous in the tasks that needed to be accomplished. He could not deal with ambiguity and his temper showed as he took it out on other people and team members. (Northouse, 2010) Situational Leadership II The two coaches showed evidence from both readings that they practiced some level of situational leadership. Coach K demonstrated that he stood up for his players and they knew they could trust him.
When he gave the ball to Laettner to stuff a basket in the final seconds to win a championship he knew he had the skills and would get the job done. He wanted to win for the team not for himself and even said once, did you see their faces and how happy they are. (Bob Carter) Coach K led his team by the skills that the team had; he did not change them, he developed them. Coach Knight, I believe, also led teams by development and using skills in the appropriate areas. He did it in a fashion of sheer work and drive to hone the skill in each person to exactly the perfection he wanted.
When he did not get it or thought they were not giving enough, there were consequences for all around. Coach Knight was low on the supportive and directive behavior quadrant; I do not think he felt comfortable or confident to manage from that perspective. (Northouse, 2010) He excelled from the more comfortable leadership position S2 with only fringes of S1 or S3, unless they were extremely successful. Path-Goal Theory The path-goal theory of leadership is by understanding and leading people through enhancing performance and satisfaction and then focusing on what motivates them.
For both coaches and for the entire player, the goal was to win games and that is what everyone wants. Both coaches had to go out and get potential players and those player and coaches began a dialogue on what both wanted and how they were going to achieve it. I believe that players that were coached by Knight knew his style and methods that he used to win games. Even today people say you don’t know him like we do, meaning his methods to them were acceptable. Likewise, Coach K went out to get players and they knew what he was like and his methods.
The players chose to go with the perspective school and accepted them based on learned knowledge. Both coaches led their players in a fashion that was in an achievement-oriented style to reach their highest potential for the best outcome – winning games. The players with the desire of external locus of control probably liked Coach K style of leadership. The external locus of control the subordinate likes to feel more in control of their destiny and maybe take part in the decisions; this would be a part of something special with players and Coach K.
Coach Knight was a dominate leader and coach, in control of everything – external locus of control players would believe more outside forces are in control. Directive leadership would be best for these types of players as they like the idea of someone taking control. Both teams coached by either Knight or Krzyzewski demonstrated the task characteristics as both coaches and players needed to be able to perform on the floor during a game with independence as things happen fast.
Both coaches needed their teams to function on their own with a high degree of confidence. They would use the skills taught to them to win the game. References Northouse, P. (2010). Leadership: Theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications Bob Carter, Krzyzewskiville, ESPN Classic. From: http://www. espn. go. com/classic/biography/s/Krzyzewski_Mike. html Mike Puma, Knight Known for titles, temper, ESPN Classic. From: http://espn. go. com/classic/biography/s/Knight_Bob. html

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