Coach K and Coach Knight both achieved significant success during their college coaching careers. Both coaches possessed the knowledge, skills, and abilities to lead their teams to numerous victories. However, their approaches to this success were very different. Robert Katz and M.D. Mumford identified three skills that leaders should have to ensure their effectiveness and success. Those skills included: technical, human, and conceptual skills. Robert Blake and Jane Mouton developed a leadership grid that indicated behaviors of leaders that were based on people and results. Based on these two leadership models, the coaches were very diverse on the methods exercised to lead their teams. One coach was more concerned with human skills and development of people, while the other coach was more focused on technical skill and results.
In employing the Katz and later studies of Mumford’s skills approach, Coach K is dedicated in promoting the development and growth within his team. He utilized his human skills in his ability to work with his team and other coaching staff to accomplish their goals (Northouse, p. 45). He created an environment of trust in where the team had faith in his leadership and each other. Coach K encouraged his team to rely on each other’s ideas and concepts and adapted them into his guidance of the team. He applied his technical and conceptual skills by creating a shared vision for the team and staff; while also using his knowledge and abilities about basketball to enable the team to reach victory.
Coach Knight’s skills and how they related to the Katz and Mumford’s approach were slightly different. He utilized his technical skills with his team by providing them with examples of his experience and expertise of the game. Coach Knight conducted specific activities and drills that would ensure the team would be successful. He strongly believed that physical activity or the use of technical skills which involve hands on activity or processes within an organization would guarantee victory (Northouse, p. 44). Creating a plan and a vision for his team, he pushed his players to strive for excellence. This was an example of his use of conceptual skills. However, Coach Knight lacked human skills. He has been criticized for being unconcerned about the feelings, thoughts, and concerns of others. Most people saw him as a tyrant or dictator.
While analyzing the coaches using the Blake Mouton Grid, they are very dissimilar as well. Coach K exhibits the Team leadership results. He is very concerned with results, but is just as concerned about his team and their individual needs. He operates his team with encouragement and motivation for individual and organizational results. The team is driven to produce results and is satisfied or content with his leadership abilities. Yet, Coach Knight identifies with the Authority-compliance management system. He is focused on results by any means necessary. This leadership style is high on results and low on concerns for people. Coach Knight follows a strict system with emphasis on policies and procedures. He has been known to punish or terminate team members for not producing acceptable results.
Although both coaches have experienced considerable success, they have two very different leadership styles used to accomplish their goals. While Coach K equally directs his attention to both task oriented and relationship based leadership, Coach Knight centers his leadership approach on only completing tasks and achieving results. Despite the distinctive natures of their leadership proficiencies, both men are respected and highly regarded in the basketball community.
Balancing task- and people –oriented leadership: The Blake Mouton managerial grid. Retrieved from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_73.html Northouse. P. G. (2013). Leadership theory and practice (6th e.d.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Snook, S. A., Perlow, L. A., & Delacy, B. J. (2005 December 1). Coach K: A matter of the heart. HBS No 9-406-044. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing Snook, S. A., Perlow, L. A., & Delacy, B. J. (2005 December 1). Coach Knight: The will to win. HBS No 9-406-043. Boston,
MA: Harvard Business School Publishing