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A Great Piece On Mike Krzyzewski’s Leadership Style

A really thoughtful piece worth your time

North Carolina v Duke
 NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 02: Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils speaks during his final post-game press conference after their loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Final Four at Caesars Superdome on April 2, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

The national Coach-K-will-retire-soon party has mostly wound down, with only a few stragglers lingering in the media.

A lot of it has been click bait but every so often there’s been a very fine article and happily, that’s what we’re going to steer you to now.

Dr. David Dreyer, a political science professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University, posted a well-written piece about what he calls “Coach K’s relational leadership.“

Essentially he argues that Mike Krzyzewski’s success is based on relationships, something we’d guess that Coach K would agree with, if not necessarily every aspect.

He also delves somewhat into Coach K’s persona, looking specifically at his “volatility.” You have to think as a young coach he modeled a lot on his own coach, Bobby Knight, who pretty much set the standard for volatility.

Yet he had the sense to realize that that wouldn’t work for him and perhaps that it would ultimately fail Knight as well.

The biggest difference between Knight and Coach K is one of Krzyzewski’s most stunning accomplishments: he learned to not just control his anger but to use it to make him (and his teams) better. How many people can use their anger in a positive way? Consistently?

Krzyzewski has always shown an iron will but think about that for a minute. He turned one of his greatest weaknesses - rage - into one of his greatest strengths. It’s a tremendous level of emotional awareness.

Which is really a main pillar of his success: Coach K’s not often described as a person of deep emotional intelligence, least of all by his haters.

But that gift and, perhaps stubbornness, support the rest.

Anyway, this is a really good piece and we recommend it.