Last night, Mike Krysewski, head coach of Duke University’s men’s basketball team, became the all-time college wins leader at 903 victories, surpassing his old Army coach and mentor, Bobby Knight. As sportscasters, coaches, players, and others were dishing out accolades about Coach K, the most consistent comment was the fact that he is simply an amazing leader. Dick Vitale, former college basketball coach and ESPN analyst, even suggested that there has never been a greater leader in any sport- college or professional! When asked about his leadership ability, Coach K responded, and I paraphrase, “I’ve had great mentors in my life. I have a passion for preparation and a passion for winning. I also believe in the importance of building the right team with the right players.” Sounds amazingly biblical to me!
Imagine the possibilities when we think and act like Coach K?? One of the most significant things that the Duke coach said was that it takes passion… for preparation! Sadly, too often we only consider a strong desire for something in a right context- passion, as the key to being successful. But that’s not what Coach K is saying at all. He combines passion with preparation, which to me implies not merely the work ethic necessary to achieve, but the capacity to mature in your abilities because of teachability. Almost all of Krysewski’s former players indicated that they didn’t just play basketball for their coach, they learned invaluable lessons about life and leadership.
Another interesting note about Coach’s K’s leadership is how he approaches team-building: “There are five fundamental qualities that make every team great: communication, trust, collective responsibility, caring and pride. I like to think of each as a separate finger on the fist. Any one individually is important. But all of them together are unbeatable.” There’s no doubt that to play for Coach K is an incredible opportunity, but it also requires an understanding of the philosophy that he eschews. I truly admire the man and would savor the opportunity to “sit at his feet” when it comes to leadership savvy and proven results. Without question, there is much I can learn from Coach K, and I’m sure you can too.
I applaud the man for his accomplishments, but more importantly, I want to glean from his example to effect similar results in my own leadership responsibilities.