Leadership is the manner in which a leader approaches and provides direction in implementation of plans and motivation of people. Going by Coach K’s initial address to all the new teams that he has encountered, it is clear that Coach K adopts a democratic approach whereby he does not threaten players with repercussions if they fail but rather emphasizes a team approach whereby every player is urged to play according to the team plan. On the other hand, Bob Knight’s approach is authoritarian whereby he lays down his plans before his team and expects each and every team player to perform their individual best. Herein lays a gray area which Bob Knight was known to exploit since it is not possible to judge a player’s best performance while not pushing the same player to extremes that might not be justifiable.
Given the military background that Coach K and Bob Knight have, it is evident that both expect their teams to follow the instructions that are handed to them to the word. Coach K believes that players have to be motivated to ensure that the players perform to the best of their ability. This approach implies that Coach K believes in the
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A good leader should be all round and should not only aim at being feared or loved. A good leader should employ a blend of autocracy, democracy and delegation according to the situation at hand. If a leader aims at being loved without instilling awe in the team, the leader stands a high chance of loosing control of the team when the team encounters crises. The team will lack a central figure around which to rally their efforts which could in turn lead to a disjointed team where every team member acts independently creating disunity. On the other hand, instilling too much fear in team members will lead the team to function robotically since no member will venture to try new ideas outside of the original plan even when the situation at demands a new approach. This approach is also very taxing on the team leader since the leader is the heart and soul of the whole team.
Coach K nurtures a team that regards itself as a family which is an important cohesive bond because family members always go out of their way to supplement each others efforts. The informal approach that Coach K adopts endears him to his players whereby they feel that they have a duty to perform well not so much as to win but more so that they may not be the ones to let Coach K down. This approach is ensures a comfortable relationship between the coach and team members and also among the team members themselves. Bob Knight demands absolute discipline from his team members and a typical Bob Knight training session was meticulously planned and filled with flawless drills. Bob Knight is a perfectionist who does not tolerate any mistakes from his team players since he believes that tolerating mistakes will encourage the players to make mistake. This in essence does not encourage a team spirit because every player aims at avoiding mistakes so as to avoid being punished.
The lessons learnt from the two coaches cut across the board in that the leadership styles can be applied in any team. Caution should however be exercised in adopting Bob Knight’s approach since it could easily backfire. Coach Knight’s approach requires a seasoned leader with external support because the approach is very prone to internal discontentment from team members.
Human beings by nature have a strong desire to feel appreciated. As such, when dealing with team members it is important not only to look at the goals but also at the emotional well being of individual team members. Failure to take into consideration the emotional well being of the team may lead the team to disintegrate if the team members feel that their efforts will never be appreciated. Former team members have commented on Bob Knight’s style of leadership and proved it to be wanting. Bob Knight’s referral to thank you notes from former team players are not a complete measure of his success since team members all agree that working under Bob Knight was not an appealing prospect. Consequently, Bob Knight’s assertion that his record speaks for itself might not paint the complete the whole picture and this is further evident in the dismissal that he is given later on.
Coach K’s approach is definitely most suited because it provides an inclusive platform whereby the team plays as one unit which is the fundamental requirement in any team; that every team member plays his level best for the benefit of the team.