Coach Knight and Coach K Case Studies Example

Published: 2021-06-18 05:48:55
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Category: Training, Relationships, Leadership, Teamwork, Team, Model, Leader, Coaching

Type of paper: Essay

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Coach Knight and Coach K. have very different styles of coaching. One style of coaching displays a softer side to leadership and coaching while the other style believes in the notion of exercising tough love in leadership. Generally speaking, Coach K’s style seems to be more sincere, personal and at times compassionate while Coach Knight’s leadership style is rigid and strict. Both coaches have had very successful careers in coaching. The numerous wins reveal the success of the college basketball teams that they have coached. The difference in their coaching styles and leadership techniques leads one to wonder about the most effective and efficient leadership or coaching style. Embracing any given leadership style is irrelevant as long as the outcome of the leadership is positive. This paper uses Fielder’s Contingency model and Situational Leadership II to analyse the effectiveness of the two coaching styles.

Fiedler’s contingency approach is described as a leader-match framework where the leaders are assigned to the most suitable situation given their capabilities and attributes (Northhouse, 2010). Hence, the effectiveness of a leader is pegged upon how well the style of leadership fits the current circumstance. In the case of Coach Knight, he displayed the characteristics of a task motivated approach in leadership where his focus was to reach a specific goal. He was less concerned with a leader-follower relationship, and he was barely aware of the disconnected relationship that existed in his relationship with his players. Based on the model, Knight’s leader-member relation was relatively low while the task structure was high. His position power was also high as shown by his frequent misuse of physical and verbal punishment. Considering his regular outbursts, Fielder would deduce that the knight’s style was mismatched with the situation because while, “stressed the leader resorts to less mature means of putting up” (Northhouse, 2010). Some of the immature reactions included throwing of chairs, cursing and screaming. The reactions led to poor decision making and negative leadership outcome and the jeopardy of his career (Snook et. al., 2005). On the other hand, Couch K. scores very high in the least preferred co-worker scale. He perfectly fits in the situation of the member-leader relations. The couch valued relationships with fellow team members.

He understood their situations and was always there for them. The character of the couch reflected the true nature of a leader. Besides, his position of power was not very extreme as he was so close to the members of the team. His task focus was very high as he did not entirely concentrate on winning all the time. He encouraged the team members to do the best they could in the game. The scores obtained from Fielders’ model did not affect the effectiveness of the method that they used in coaching their teams to win during their matches.

Blanchard’s model states that the different demands of situations requires different types of leadership. The model notes that for a leader to be effective, he must derive his own way of leading (Northhouse, 2010). It is clear that the two leaders used the leadership model in the course of their coaching career. Knight was harsh towards the members of his team, but he displayed behaviours that were directive. He never tried to influence any team member on them. Accomplishment of his goals was achieved through the art of giving instructions and directions and establishment of goals and methods. He explained the directive behavior using a one-way communication of expressing to the team what had to be done and how it had to be done. Coach K showed compassionate behavior towards his colleagues. He was very motivating and caring (Snook et. al., 2005). He showed emotional support through his leadership style of involving a two-way communication with them. He would give praises and a listening ear where necessary to any concerns that the team members had.

Both Coach K. and Coach Knight were successful in using their own leadership styles with Knight being strict but ended up making a strong team that was very effective. Coach K was soft in his leader style in training his team to be the best and ended up with the same result. Therefore, embracing a given leadership style does not matter as long as the goals are being met.


Northouse, P. G. (2010). Leadership: theory and practice (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Snook, S. A., Perlow, L. A., & DeLacey, B. J. (2005). Coach Knight: a matter of the heart. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School.
Snook, S. A., Perlow, L. A., & DeLacey, B. (2005). Coach Knight: The Will to Win (Rev. 05/12/01. ed.). Boston, MA: Harvard Business School.

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