Coach K’s Leadership Tips

Webster’s Dictionary defines leadership as the following: “the office or position of a leader,” “the capacity to lead,” or “the act or an instance of leading” (Merriam-Webster, 2018).  If you were to randomly ask a number of people how they define leadership, I suspect you would get a myriad of answers; mostly because not everyone displays leadership the same and not everyone receives leadership the same. 

Duke University’s legendary basketball coach, Coach Mike Krzyzewski, most popularly known as Coach K, provided a number of leadership “tips” in his book, Leading With the Heart. Below are 10 of my favorites and one’s that I like to recall from time to time:

  • It is important to begin using plural pronouns right away: “Our” instead of “my,” “we” instead of “I,” “us” instead of “me.”  Remember that leadership on a team is not singular, it’s plural.
  • Bonds have to form among all members of the team.  An architecture of leadership has to be created so that the wheel is sustained if something happens to the hub.
  • Leaders instill respect for authority by having a caring attitude, by being direct, by communicating regularly, and by being honest.
  • Failure is a part of success.
  • Discipline is doing what you are supposed to do in the best possible manner at the time you are supposed to do it.
  • A confidence shared is better than a confidence only in yourself.
  • In leadership, no word is more important than trust.
  • Take time to get refreshed.  Clear your head, rest and recharge your batteries, and then get after it.
  • When you screw up, admit you are wrong.  Apologize in front of the whole team.  To admit a mistake is not a weakness, it’s a strength.
  • Make the truth the basis for all you do.

The way in which a person displays leadership will change as different opportunities and challenges unfold and, we’re not going to have all the answers all time but…that’s okay.  God never changes and will have all the answers, all the time. 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,
declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. — Isaiah 55:8-9