Coach Knight and Coach K Harvard Case Solution & Analysis


The paper attempts to describe the leadership style of Coach K’s and Coach Knight along with their basic assumption for motivation, leading, and human nature. The paper also provides justifications for an effective leadership style in both cases while discussing the conditions in which the two coaches would get hired. Moreover, the paper discusses the effective way of motivation that has allowed them to perform at greater heights. Furthermore, the paper discusses a time when Coach K motivated others in performing well and the reasons of why he was effective in his approach. Lastly, the paper discusses Coach K’s basic assumptions of motivation, leading, and human nature.

Question 1: How would you describe Coach K's leadership style? What are his basic assumptions about motivation, leading, and human nature?

The leadership style adopted by Coach K is a transformational leadership style in which a leader identifies the change needed in the process and then creates a vision and leads through inspiration and motivation (Shein, 2010). Coach K was not only involved in the process of guiding his team to success, but also he was also focused on helping every player to succeed. Moreover, Coach K’s approach remains paternalistic as he varies his approach and personality towards different situation.

Coach K led his team to many victories on the basis of trust, love, and knowledge. As he is an inspirational leader he knew that there is time for everything which includes anger, frustrations, and love, but at the same time Coach K realized everything must be performed according to the right time and place. Coach K allowed his players to achieve their full potential as he would get inside a player’s head and help him through empathy so that there shall be know hurdles in the performance of the team. Since the willingness of winning has been present in Coach K’s mind, but more importantly he believed in winning the hearts of the people by playing good game and giving all their efforts for a good show. He believed in mutual trust as he was certain that there is always something in the eyes of the players and their facial expressions that allowed him to understand the entire picture. Therefore, this behavior led him to many victories because the focus was not just on willingness to win, but to perform better in each match.

Since the motivational level of Coach K was high, it was transferred amongst his players to provide them enthusiasm and commitment. Before the start of the match, Coach K would enter the dressing room with a broad smile and a good body language that would proclaim ‘we would be great tonight’. Players considered Coach K as their role model as Coach K believed that anything a person does on and off the field affects his life and his method of teaching. Coach K was disciplined in terms of maintaining good performance of their team, daily practices, and respect for subordinates, but at the same time he was motivational and provided encouragement to players and gave them time if a player needed support.

The nature of Coach K is friendly as he treats every player as a part of his family. Coach K maintains character of being a family man at first, then as a teacher, and as coach in the last. He invites players to family dinners and maintains a close relationship with every player because he believes that in order to get the best out of each player it is important to develop trust and maintain a friendly relationship. This is the reason why many former players still seek Coach K’s advice on and off the field because he is a great coach and a mentor in the eyes of the players. Coach K maintains the air of love and respect for his players as it can be reflected by his act to visit Bobby Hurley during his rehabilitation at the hospital for surgery as he was hit by a car. Therefore, this act suggests that Coach K is passionate about building long-term relationship.....................................

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