Last Updated 07 May 2020

Leading With The Heart

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Leadership and personality may be acquired during developmental stages of human person. Most of the times leadership is molded by role models, background, academics and the innermost person (conscience that compels one in to doing good or evil).

Leadership is by choice and determination. “Leading With The Heart”, a book by Coach K. describing his application of leadership philosophies in his career as the basket ball coach of Duke University. The team leader, Mike Krzyzewski, also called the Coach, K., was born in 1947(1947-02-13) in Chicago, Illinois and has lead in sports for over twenty years.

During his headship at Duke University as a basketball coach, he has managed to lead the Blue Devils through a series of winning matches within the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournaments making a number of national appearances and numerous wins at different levels.

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Coach K. applies different leadership theories in his team leadership and organization. For example, he uses the Trait theory in selecting his teams. In his text he says that he looks for traits that make a person outgoing, outstanding, good, and very smart in performance of their roles. It is this people that he trains and incorporates in his organization.

The key aspect that the coach looks for when hiring persons is their character. It does not look for only those with fully developed skill of the duty but good character. After hiring them he trains then to be good leaders. Once a well behaved person is fully trained they just become the best performers. He believes that good character is the key to successful leadership and productivity

More over, in his leadership in organization Coach K. uses the situational theories of leadership philosophy. Coach K. has a new style of leadership while he coaches his team at Duke University. This enables the players not master his leadership techniques thus up holding his leadership styles. Mike K., the Coach, has made one realization in leadership that every time of leadership poses new challenges that call for new headship style.

Hence various coaching situations require different leadership styles. He acknowledges this principle by changing with situation. He insists that leadership ought to be flexible, progressive, vibrant and adjustable. With this in mind Mike K, is always able to produce a different team seasonally hence he can not be copied; he must always win.

Mike K, the Coach of Duke basketball discuses his use of behavior leadership theory. Once a leader always a leader; Coach K, leads by feel. Yes, he leads with the heart. He must infer the behavior of his students. He makes himself so simple and approachable to the players motivating them. He explores good communication strategies so that he can learn their behavior and attitude towards the game. He must first study the nature and mood of his players before instructing them.

He studies their behavior one by one. This enable him determine if they want to play or not, then he can address the underlying problems among them. He further advocates for flexibility in coaching basketball. Coach K. believes that the game is full of adjustments; he feels that game requires a large investment of creativity and decisiveness, (Krzyzewski M. & Philips T.D. 2000).

Coach K. supports his trainees. He makes a promise to his new recruit with a few statements like “I am going to give you the best…” These statements are not to be taken for granted. His new recruits shake his hands as a sign of a warm welcome to the team. He ensures that most of his students graduate in the game with the best possible skill.

Leadership entails full time focus through out the season for a team to win. He encourages leaders to plan ahead of time and prepare teams in good time. Lying long term planning is important besides short term adjustable plans. A plan is changed when failure is foreseen for a season.

In addition to his leadership skills, Coach K. uses transformational theory in his leadership. He keeps on motivating his team to move a step ahead and progress higher and higher every season. In his coaching he ensures that his players are not only transformed in experience but also in moral values. He knows that leadership is always by discipline or morality. Coach K. believes that people are positive and that they are best performers at will. The world class basketball coach embarks in transforming his players’ already formed opinion of the game and personalities; encouraging their creativity and productivity.

He helps his player to gain self-awareness, instilling good values in them thus uplifting their morality. He has transformed some of his former students in to team leaders elsewhere in the world. For instance, the following are were under his coaching and have already become head coached in other academic institutions: Bob Bender now in Washington, Henderson, D.(Delaware), Dawlins, J. (Stanford), Amaker, T. (Harvard, Michigan and Seton) and Brey, M. (Notre Dome) among others. Most of his former players are eithr world champions or team leaders all over the world. In other wards, the Coach K. coaches leaders.

In conclusion, leadership is a trait that is developed, inferred, inspired and transpired from person to person through various ways. A positive mind, flexibility and principles are very important values in leadership.  More so, a leader must serve as an example. Finally, Morality is a valuable treasure in leadership.


Krzyzewski M. & Philips T.D. (2000). Leading With The Heart: Coach K.’s Successful Strategy

 for Basketball, Business and Life. U.S.: Warmer Books Press.

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