A Tale of Two Coaches
Coach Bobby Knight and his famous protégé, coach Mike Krzyzewski both share leadership styles and in many ways their styles are vastly different. Leadership is influence: it is getting people to deliver a set of results. Studies by Zaccaro, Kemp and Bader identified traits used by effective leaders such as cognitive abilities, extroversion, conscientiousness, stability, openness, motivation, agreeableness, social intelligence, self monitoring, emotional intelligence and problem solving skills. Both coaches led. One coach got his students to follow him out of respect and one out of fear. Both coaches motivate. Both are shrewd strategists with cognitive abilities. Coach Krzyzewski seems to exercise social intellect, openness, agreeableness, self monitoring and emotional IQ. One of his strongest traits, motivation for socialized power was pretty unique amongst coaches like Wooden and coach Krzyzewski, while Knight is more of an achievement motivation coach similar to Vince Lombardi. Based on these traits Coach Krzyzewski used a more effective trait leadership style.
The five factor personality model (Goldberg, 1990; McCrae & Costa, 1987) focuses on the big five personality traits: neuroticism, extraversion (urgency), openness (intellect), agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Which traits are exercised by which coaches?
Coach Knight was coercive (neurotic) as a coach, throwing chairs, punching police officers and choking students (Sperber, 2000). He was an expert in his field with over 800 wins. He was legendary for his preparation and contentiousness. His power was legitimate, even the athletic director at Indiana University would not challenge him (Sperber, 2000). Do what he said as a student athlete and they would be rewarded with playing time and the possibility of a championship. Those that ignore his directives were apt to ride the pine. His coaching demeanor was not very friendly though his friends say he was very friendly away from the game.
Coach Krzyzewski exercises expert power. He is revered by his students and the press as friendly usually accessible and amicable. One of Coach Krzyzewski’s seven team building principles even strives to create a family environment (Krzyzewski, 2005). His power is legitimate, with over 800 wins and 25 visits to the NCAA tournament, a most definite reward for the athletes that follow him. His preparation and organization are legendary too. Both leaders carried the laurel of assigned leader based on the title “head coach”, both showed many of the traits of an emergent leader. ( Hogg, 2001) They both had reputations as tough, hardnosed winners that preceded them in recruiting. Both coaches tried to practice perfect and at times were not above exercising psychological warfare with their student athletes. Both coaches were involved in every aspect of running their respective teams, both were initiators in new ideas , Coach Knight in setting the standard of Indiana’s student athlete and academic excellence extremely high and Coach Krzyzewski in doing the same thing while striving to develop a family concept. Both coaches’ teams took on their identities. Indiana was known as a fundamentally sound team of blue collar student athletes under “The Generals” leadership and Coach Krzyzewski’s teams were known as a fundamentally sound team of student athletes that played extremely hard for their coach. Coach Krzyzewski and Coach Knight differed in their approach of the three leadership traits identified by Katz (1955) and refined by Mumford and colleagues (2000). Coach Knight lacked strong personal skills and was rarely referred to as a people person. He was apt to throw the press, coaches and players out of practice if he felt like it. Coach Krzyzewski, on the other hand, said himself that the human skills (Katz 1955) were extremely important. He is quoted as saying: "An important part of being a leader is the ability to feel what your players feel." (Carter,...
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