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Playbook of a basketball king

by on
in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills,Profiles in Leadership

You don’t win, as a coach, more men’s college basketball games than any other without being a phenomenal leader. Duke University coach Mike Krzyzewski is a leader who happens to coach basketball.

Leadership lessons we can learn from him:

• View your team like family. On the night of his record-breaking win, 30 of Coach K’s former players sat in the stands. Post-game, he referred to the Duke basketball family and how all those players were a part of the record.

In what ways do you view your ‘players’ as family?

• Keep your focus on others. A re­­porter asked Coach K where he’d be keeping the basketball used in the record-breaking game. “This ball will go in our Duke Basketball Hall of Fame,” he said. “Something like this belongs to the team and the program.”

Note how he said “our” hall, not “the” hall. Coach K knows that his efforts and successes as a leader are about others, not about himself. Where is your focus directed most of the time?

• Articulate your principles. Coach K is known for the way he uses basketball to mold men, not just score points. He articulates a set of principles for on and off the court. Are your values clear? Do you live them every day?

• Be flexible in your execution. Over the past 30 years, Coach K has worked with players with different playing styles and strengths. The team executes differently when it has more great shooters versus more great inside players. Be ready to shift your execution strategy, based on the strengths of team members. How flexible are you in a variety of situations?

— Adapted from “Four Leadership Lessons From Coach Mike Krzyzewski,” Kevin Eikenberry, Leadership & Learning.

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