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Case Study Analysis Paper one: A Tale of Two Coaches

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Case Study Analysis Paper 1: A Tale of Two Coaches

 Cynthia Stone

Grand Canyon University: LDR 600


Case Study Analysis Paper One: A Tale of Two Coaches

 Two of the winningest coaches in college basketball are Bobby Knight from the University of Indiana and Mike Krzyzewski of Duke University. Both coaches are described as ambitious, driven to win and passionate about their players. They demonstrate similar leadership traits; drive, the desire to lead, and a knowledge of the game of basketball. While both coaches have very successful careers and demonstrate some similar leadership traits, they rely on power obtained from two different bases. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the leadership perspectives, power bases of both coaches and how these factors affected the effectiveness of their coaching.

Leadership Traits

        Both Coach Knight and Coach Krzyzewski (Coach K), demonstrate very similar leadership traits and a strong determination to win. Coach Knight’s drive for excellence proved to be successful, however it was not without controversy. His actions, which were often misinterpreted as anger, were really just an external display of his deep desire for helping his players reach their maximum potential. Unfortunately, the controversies that arose from this passion resulted in the end of his coaching career at Indiana, when he was terminated in 2000 for shoving a student and displaying improper behavior (Snook, S., Perlow, L., Delacey, B., 2005). Coach K demonstrated the same level of determination as his former coach and mentor Coach Knight, however he took a gentler, parental approach to coaching. He taught discipline during drills and practice, viewing footage from games and producing strategies. He believed in face to face, eye to eye communication and building relationships between the players and coaching staff. Both Hall of Fame coaches are some of the most accomplished coaches in basketball history, even with their two separate approaches to “getting the job done.” (Snook, S., Perlow, L., Delacey, B., 2005).

        A second leadership trait demonstrated by both coaches is the desire to lead their team. Knight began his coaching career in 1962 and retired in 2007. Krzyzewski began his coaching career in 1975 and is still currently leading the Duke University Blue Devils Men’s Basketball Team (2005).  They both dedicated their lives to leading teams of young men both on the court and off the court in addition to continuing some of those relationships long after they have left the school. Both coaches had a clear vision for their respective basketball programs and all of their primary efforts and focus were on that vision; creating a winning basketball program.

        Lastly, they both demonstrate expert knowledge in the business of basketball by not only being successful basketball players (Knight at Ohio State and Krzyzewski at West Point), but by being incredibly effective coaches. No one would dispute the expertise both men have shown in the world of college basketball. Bobby Knight has been described as, “Controversial and colorful, combustible and combative, Bobby Knight is one of the most successful coaches in college basketball history,” (Puma, M,2015). During the 2015 basketball season, Coach K demonstrated his expertise by exceeded his 1000th win and winning his 5th NCAA Division 1 National Championship and earning the title of the winningest men’s basketball coach in history (Norlander, M., 2015).

Personal Power vs. Positional Power

        While both of these men have very similar backgrounds, leadership traits and coaching abilities, they obtain their power from two very different bases. Coach Knight’s power comes from the position which he held as “Coach” and is described as positional power. With this positional power he primarily uses coercion as a tool for motivation in his work environment (the basketball court). Knight used threats, physical violence, foul language and punishment to control the players on his team. His consistent use of intimidation coupled with the personality factor of neuroticism he does not represent effective leadership (Northouse, 2016).



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