As I mentioned in a previous post reviewing Tony Dungy’s book, Quiet Strength, I had some free time this winter break to do some reading. As a result, I have another book review for you guys.
While I think I enjoyed reading Dungy’s book more, I believe I learned more from Coach K’s book about leadership entitled Leading with the Heart. He talked about a wide range of issues that affect leadership including courage, success, and continual learning. In fact, I typed up just over five full pages (single-spaced) of quotes that really resonated with me from the book.
The subheading of the book is “Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business and Life.” In the text, Coach K offers up business examples. To be honest, I didn’t think those specific examples were mindblowing, but I appreciated the metaphors he tried to make from the sports world to the world of business. However his ideas on these characteristics as they relate to basketball and life were wonderful and quite easy to transfer to your area of business without Coach K spelling it out for you line-by-line.
Coach K is the first to admit that there is no set formula to make a great leader. Leadership has a variety of traits and characteristics that go along with it and there’s no step-by-step system to follow in order to become the perfect leader. Look at Coach K and Bobby Knight. Yes Knight coached Mike Kryzyzewski, but their coaching styles (for the most part) are completely opposite. Yet, they have both been quite successful with their respective teams. In his book, Coach K merely expounds upon what worked for him and what characteristics he deems important in his players, co-workers, and even himself.
I’m a hockey fan first so I am not one of those college students who is obsessed with college basketball (probably because my school’s program hasn’t been good for awhile now). Even so, I truly enjoyed the many basketball anecdotes and examples he gave throughout the book. Shane Battier, one of the Duke basketball stars, attended my high school so I particularly enjoyed reading anecdotes about Battier and his college experience at Duke.
While the book is designed for someone who likes sports and can appreciate the success of the Duke basketball program, you do not need to be a hardcore fan by any stretch of the imagination to enjoy and value what Coach K has to say about leadership. I would give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.
Coach K did address media relations and other PR topics in the book. You can read a few excerpts below.
“In preparation for the tournament, we also talk to the players about the media. We remind them of our policies during the regular season, which, for the most part, will also apply now. Treat members of the media with respect. Be honest and open with them, but don’t tell them every detail of our existence. There will be an open locker room after every game. Each player is on his own to answer questions to anybody who asks. This is exactly how we handle things during the regular season. It prepares the players not only for March Madness, but for life after Duke – whether it’s in the NBA or in business.” [p. 142]
“My philosophy is that we should not cut players off from interviews. It is a tremendous experience for them to be able to learn how to deal with the media. As a matter of fact, I think some consideration should be given to providing the students with course credits for their efforts. If they make some mistakes, that’s okay. They have to stumble a few times to grow up. I don’t believe in sheltering them. That’s not the real world. But we don’t necessarily throw them to the wolves and let them be eat alive, either. Over the course of the regular season, we’ll work with them. We’ll critique their interviews together and discuss what went well and what they could do better next time. And we’ll direct them to answer questions regarding the game they just played rather than getting into some other areas that might lead to disharmony on the team.” [p. 143]
“Well, first of all, I delegate as much as possible. I turn over all the details of the Final Four media to Mike Cragg, our sports information director. He has to get his armored suit out to handle all the bullets coming Duke’s way. He has to keep us all informed, reminded, and organized about all the media requirements and commitments. There’s no way I could do all that myself. Nor would I want to. Every free moment has to be dedicated to preparing our team for the game.” [p. 171]