Donald T. Phillips, Mike Krzyzewski
Leading with the Heart: Coach k’s Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life
In some respects, a top-level college coach is a lot like a manager in any business. He has to turn a group of talented individuals into a smoothly running team, and he has to produce results that please the fans of his team–the shareholders of the athletic program. Thus, in Leading with the Heart, Krzyzewski reviews the lessons he’s learned as basketball coach at Duke University, and tries to universalize them so they translate to any leadership position. For example, he writes, “Adjustments are not unusual, they are usual. So a leader’s ability to think on his feet … to do things without instruction … is of paramount importance.” Makes sense, as does this admonition: “When teaching, always remember this simple phrase: ‘You hear, you forget. You see, you remember. You do, you understand.'”
The book has four sections–“Preseason,” “Regular Season,” “Postseason,” and “All-Season”–and each of those has four chapters. Each chapter begins with three quotes (“Too many rules get in the way of leadership” leads off chapter 1), and ends with bulleted tips summing up the chapter’s message. Between the quotes and the bullet points are anecdotes about Duke basketball games and (occasionally) Krzyzewski’s life outside basketball. What you come away with is an understanding of why Krzyzewski is a great basketball coach, why former Duke assistants such as Tommy Amaker and Quin Snyder are probably going to become great basketball coaches, and how anyone who’s currently a coach can become a better coach. It would be great if other types of managers in other types of businesses could incorporate these lessons in compassionate, focused, highly flexible leadership, but it seems unlikely. Most managers in business rise through the ranks not because of their ability to lead or inspire but because of their knowledge and competence (if not their connections). On the other hand, it would be nice if each of us, just once, could work for someone like Coach K, someone who could push the right buttons and lead us to our own version of the Final Four. Not likely, but a pretty sweet fantasy.
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