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Coach K’s Key to National Championship is also Key to Highly Effective Leadership: “Attitude is Never a Problem…Allows for Creativity.”

Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on

Managers can learn a lot about effective leadership from Coach K’s comments following Duke’s 2015 National Championship for men’s basketball last night. When managers catch on to what creates team cohesion and collaboration at its best, they also get to enjoy team harmony, all because attitude is never an issue or problem.  Coach K talks “with” his players, not “at” them or “to” them. He connects with them on a meaningful human level because he sees them at the seat of their soul, much the way parents see and appreciate the uniqueness of their children. What makes Coach K special is he sees each of his players as Somebody’s baby all grown up playing their hearts out in exchange for the respect and firm support he has given them. Not all that different from effective parenting, he further knows how to set firm parameters regarding life beyond the court, which is clearly pivotal for how things play out on the court. Again, Coach K can count on healthy compliance in exchange for his mature, humanistic leadership.

The Leadership Trust® enjoyed an alliance with Coach K’s Center on Leadership and Ethics shortly after relocating from Greensboro to Durham more than a decade ago, and frankly speaking, I have learned more about leadership from observing Coach K with his players than any other aspect of his Center. Likewise, as a Duke Alumna from my internship at Duke Medical Center, I further learned more about leadership from Dr. Ara Tourian, a now-retired neurosurgeon with whom I made rounds for a year, than the hospital itself. The point I’m making is people follow people, not companies and not departments. When you create a positive experience for one to have of himself or herself in your presence, that’s a key piece to creating team cohesion, collaboration, and harmony – one team member at a time.