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Coach K and Coach Knight were coaches who achieved great success in their days, their set of skills and leadership made their teams successful. They were highly rated, made a huge contribution to basketball as a game and strongly respected each other. In the process of management of their respective basketball teams, they created a legacy for themselves that future generations will always remember (Snook Perlow & Delacey, 2005). The two individuals though had huge differences in how they approached success. They applied different skills in their coaching career when seeking to achieve their goals.

Robert Knight was born in 1940; at a young age, he was reported to have a huge desire for winning. Robert Knight had a big temper especially when he was not performing well. Since he was young, he demonstrated his temper when he was losing in anything. He was well-disciplined and always wanted to achieve perfection. His parents used to work hard to earn a living for their family which was inculcated in him. He performed well in his academics and was well talented athletically. While in college, he graduated with a degree and an exemplary athletic performance. He was in the university team in the NCAA championship with a coach who was considered to be short-tempered. He applied consistent and demanding management in managing his team.

Michael K was a coach who was 7 years younger than Robert Knight (Stoltzfus, 2005). He also had a childhood that taught him to work hard in order to be a success. His family loved him very much. After he joined college, he was captain of his school team. In the Indiana University basketball team as a coach, he developed an approach that made the team successful. He had a fierce style that attracted admiration from people and rebuke from others in equal measure, but it ended when he lost his job. He applied sustainable and flexible leadership that was the reason for his success.


Both coaches had short tempers especially when they were not performing as expected. They also were emotionally intelligent; to be a good coach, an individual must demonstrate emotional intelligence in their handling of circumstances (Lee, 2003). As leaders, they possessed self-awareness, were self-motivated and possessed social skills. Both coaches demonstrated their ability to be always motivated in what they did. The motivation for Coach K is to regard and treat his team as being part of his family. For Coach Knight, his motivation was not just to win games, but to achieve a perfect score (Snook, Perlow & Delacey, 2005).

Both coaches had goals to win games, but coach Knight applied an approach that strictly managed the players. When a player did not play as expected, they were immediately replaced with another player. Coach Knight’s management philosophy in coaching made him believe everyone is an expense to others (Snook, Perlow & Delacey, 2005).

Coach K had a management style of winning in every game. The style of management he intended to implement was the one affecting the lives of his players. He was loving, compassionate and dedicated to his work. He attempted to build a strong relationship between families and players (Goldsmith & Lyons, 2006). He was flexible in various aspects being one of the reasons for his team to be the best.


Goldsmith, M. & Lyons, L. (2006). Coaching for leadership : the practice of leadership coaching from the world’s greatest coaches. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Lee, G. (2003). Leadership coaching : from personal insight to organisational performance. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Snook, S., Perlow, L., & Delacey, B. (2005) Coach K: A Matter of the Heart. Harvard Business Skills, 406(044), 1-12.

Snook, S., Perlow, L., & Delacey, B. (2005). Coach Knight: A Will to Win. Harvard Business skills, 406(043), 1-17.

Stoltzfus, T. (2005). Leadership coaching : the disciplines, skills and heart of a coach. Virginia Beach, Va: T. Stoltzfus.

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