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The Coach K way

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in Leaders & Managers

Inspiring leaders take the time to single out talented people and develop them.

One good way: Mike Krzyzewski, Duke’s legendary basketball coach, invites each new player to lunch one on one. There, he asks each player to describe his personal goals for both on and off the court.
Then, he helps each player reach them because developing people is the greatest motivation of all.

“Coach K,” as he is called, also inspires those already at the top of their game. He led the USA to a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics and has agreed to coach the world team through the 2012 Olympics.

Three ideals are consistently behind his coaching success:

1. Build a cohesive team. He asked world team members to sign a contract of a shared goal: being committed to each other and the country. One player reported, "We all walked up to a board and signed it. It was a pact."

2. Involve everyone. In coaching superstars such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, he seeks partnership:"You do not say, 'This is what we're going to do.' You say, 'This is the situation. What do you think?'"

3. Invoke a higher cause.  In coaching the unpaid world team, he emphasized the significance of representing the entire nation: "You're telling me you wouldn't dive on the floor for a ball for the whole USA?"

All-star guard Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, told USA WEEKEND, "When you put it that way, it means a lot."

—Adapted from USA WEEKEND.

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